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RELIGION WITHOUT GOD 



AND 



GOD WITHOUT RELIGION. 



BY 



WILLIAM ARTHUR, 

AllHOR OF ** THE TONGUE OF FIRE," " A HISTORY OF THE VATICAN COUNCIJ.,' 
*'ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND MORAL LAW," ETC., ETC. 



I. 

POSITIVISM 



AND 



MR. FREDERIC HARRISON. 



BEMROSE & SONS, 23, OLD BAILEY ; 

AND DERBY. 

1885. 
PRIGS TWO SHILLINGS. 



RELIGION WITHOUT GOD 



AND 



GOD WITHOUT RELIGION. 



BY 



WILLIAM ARTHUR, 

AUTMOK OF "THB TONOUB OF FIRK," "a HISTORY OF THE VATICAN COUNCIL,' 
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND MORAL LAW," ETC., ETC. 



AUTHORS UNIFORM EDITION. 



BEMROSE & SONS, 23, OLD BAILEY ; 

AND DERBY. 

1885. 



^13.6.24- 




Bbmrosk & Sons, 

Printsrs, 

23, Old Bailbv, London, £.C 

AND Dbrby. 



POSITIVISM 



AND 



Mr. FREDERIC HARRISON. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE GENERAL POSITION OP COMTE. 

Page 

I. — ^A BBCENT 0029TBOVEB8Y . 1 

II. — ^BBLAIIONB OF POSTFIVISK TO l.ON08n0ISK ... 4 

III. — KNUTIVISX A ICOYBlCEin' DT BBTBRAT OF ATHBISM . 6 

IV. — OOMTX'S ATREISIC VINDICATED BT HIS FRENCH DISOIFLBS 10 

XnX BEBUEKD BY WTBOUBOFP . • • 11 

FUBTHEB BBTKBAT 12 

A BEING ABOVE ITS CONFESSED NECE88ABY ... 14 

DECEPTION OF POSITIVISTS 15 



CHAPTER II. 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 

I. — 00KTK*8 BEOONSTBTTCnON OF SOCIETY. 
HIS OBBAT AIJC • 

THE NEW BPIBITUAL POWBB . 
DEBAfflNO TEBMS . 
THE NEW PRIESTHOOD . 
HIS XODEL OF BEOONSTBUCTION 

II. — THE NEW NATIONS 

THE NEW SUFBEXB HEAD 
OBDEB8 OF THE CLERGY. 

ni. — ^THB NEW TEMPORAL POWER 

CAFIZAIJ8T8 AND WORKINO GLASSES 

IV.— CSNIBALIZATION OF THE NSW POWER 



18 
18 
19 
20 
22 
23 

26 
26 
27 

29 
29 

33 



VI. 



CONTENTS, 



CHAPTER III. 
THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 

I.— EaSBITTIALLT ▲ SESTBICTION OF THOUGHT AlH) ENQT7IBT 
▲ 8T8TE1C OF 1CAXE8HIFT EXPLANATION 

II.'^HIS W0BK8 AND PRINCIFLB8 

HIS 8T8TEM IS SCIEIiCE SUBJBCTBD TO A BOOICATIC 
FHILOSOPHT 

III.— ONLY PHBNOXENA AND LAITO TO BB STUDIED . 
BESTBICnON OF THE FIELD OF VIEW . 
ILLUSTRATION OF MAIL COACH .... 

IV.— COlfTB's FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF THE THBEE STATES 

BREAKS HIS BULBS IN FOBXULATINQ HIS OHIBF LAW 

FOBMULA OF THE LAW 

THBEE TTFES OF PHILOSOPHY .... 

v. — assumptions of the law of the thbee states . 

a baoe without a why 

oomte's final stage a betbogbade one . 
assumed knowledge of the x7nkn0wable 
a tbiple assumpnov of unbsal knowledge . 
oomtb's beauties and unrealities. 



VI. 



THREE SUPPOSED PHILOSOPHIES DO NOT NECESSARILY 
EXOLUDB ONE ANOTHER .... 



MOSES METAPHYSICAL AND POSITIYE, AS WELL AS 
THEOLOGICAL 



NEWTON THEOLOGICAL AND POSITIYE . 

VII. — SCIENCES EXCLUDED FROM VIEW .... 

NO PSYCHOLOGY OR MENTAL SCEENOE . 

ALL THINGS ASSUMED TO BE EITHBB ORGANIC OR 
INOBGANIC 



Pag€ 
3» 

39 
.40 

41 

42 
42 
43 

44 

46 
46 

47 

60 
62 
63 
57 
68 
60 

61 

62 
64 

68 
68 

70 



CONTENTS. 



vu. 



Pag* 

Vm. — vtn TBomnoALLT ▲ jcatebiaijst 71 

XATHBICATIGB ▲ SOIENCB OF HEZTTAL PBOCB88ES . 73 

ID KHTiFlB B LOQIC AND ICATHEMATICS .... 74 

IX. — BIS OTJkflHTFIOATIOir OF THE SCIENCES .... 75 

X. — OBOAinc Ain> inobgaiho 78 

HIS DEFINITION OF LIFE ...... 78 

BODY NOT THE UNIVBBSE 81 

XI. — NO FBEE AGENTS 84 

MDDIFTINO OBDEft 87 

TELBOLOOT COXES BACK 89 



n. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 

OBJECT OF WOBSHIP 
FAITH, WOBSHIP, AND BtJLE OF OONDXTOT 
THE OBJECT OF FAITH 

THE ''SUX TOTAL OF CONYEBOENT BEINGS ' 
THE OBJECT OF FAITH AN ABSTBAGTION 
A FBACTION EVEN OF AN ABSTBAGTION 
ANHCALS ADDED TO XAXE T7P 
THE NEW SUPBEXE BEING . 



GODDESS 

WHEBB OB WHAT IS THE GODDESS? 

THE GODDESS A HEBE LOGICIANS's FOBHULA 

THE GODDESS A C01CF0T7ND 

GODDESS LETS IN THEOLOGY 
CXTLTUBED KEN ON THE GODDESS 

OUGHT NOT THE GODDESS TO BE A CONSCIOUS BEING P 
KB. SPENGEB*S BIYEB AND BUBBLE 
CAUSE AND FINAL CAUSE ..... 

OOXTE'S SAGACITY 

BESTBICnON OF INQUIBY, INTELLECTUAL SUICIDE 



92 

92 
93 
94 
96 
96 
98 
99 

99 
100 
101 
102 

104 
105 
106 
106 
107 
108 
109 



Vlll. 



CONTENTS. 



IV. — XB. HARBISON BBTREA.TINO 

NO OODHOOD IN HTTXANITY 

OBKAT IS THE OODDEB8 

NEW DEFINITION OF THE GODDESS 

BITES AND GEBEICONIES 

001CTE*S OWN OUABDIAN ANGELS 

HOW TO PIGTUBE TOUB ANGELS . 

coxte's FBATEBS 

NOTHING ASKED FOB IN FBAYEB 

ooxte's SACBAICENTS . 

the saints .... 

001cte*s substitute fob fubgatoby 

POST XOBTEX JUDGMENT 



y. — THE DOICNION OF THE DEAD OVEB THE LIVINO 
SXTBJECnYE POPULATION OF HUXANITT 
LIVING BULED BY DEAD, HOST TBUE IN NON-PBO 

OBESSIYE OOXHUNITIES 
WE CAN BBBAK AWAY FBOM THE TBADITION OF 

DEAD 

CHBI8T LORD OF DEAD AND LTTING 
WHAT A OOTTAGB CHILD IS TO A OHBISTIAN 
ENGLAND WHEN UNDEB THE DOMINION OF THB DEAD 
WYCLIF*S OBY FOB OHBIST'S FBBEDOX 



VI. — coxte's XOBAL AIXS BBAL .... 

BXLIGION WITHOUT GOD AND XOBALS WITHOUT BIGHTS 



VII.^-COXTE ON SOCIETY 

ALTBXnSX OB 0THBBI8X 

BIGHTS IN CHBISTIANITY ..... 
PUBLIC AUTHOBITY IDENTIFIES ITSELF WITH PBIVATB 

BIGHT 

PBACnCAL TEST FOB THE THBEE STATES 

TBS YALUE OF CHBZBIIANITY TAdTLT OOVFESBED 



Pagt 
110 

110 

111 

112 
113 
114 
116 
116 
118 
119 
119 
121 
122 

123 
123 

127 

128 
129 
129 
131 
131 

132 
133 

136 
136 
138 

139 
140 
141 



CONTENTS. ix. 



Pagt 

Vm.— aOGEBTT Air OBOAinSM 143 

IF AN OBOANISX IT BELONGS TO THE PBOVn^CE OV 

THE PHTBIOL0OI8T 144 

KOnON OF BODIES AlTD OF OFHaOV ONE PHBNOXBNON 147 

BOTH ILLT7STBATINO LAWS OF XECHANIGS 148 

TEBXS USED IN DEOEADED SENSES .... 148 

POSITiyiST XETAPHYBICS 149 

BBSTBICTED INQUIBT OENEBATE8 NABB0WNES8 OF 7IBW 150 

DID ICAN FASHION HIS OWN DESTINY ? . . . 151 
TO WHOM ABE VENERATION AND GRATITUDE DUB ? .153 

IX. — la. habbison's huxanitt 154 

IS HUXANITT A SUBSTITUTE FOB GOD? 156 

THE TBUE IDEA OF BELIOION 157 

THE TBUE CENTBE OF UNION ..... loT 

FALSE THEOLOGICAL TBBV8 158 

WHAT IS "intelligent'' LOVE TO ]CAN . . .159 

A KBOOXAN SSIFPEB 160 

THE TBUE HUKAN GBOUND FOB LOVING OUB BBOTHEB 162 

IN THE DARK HOUB BEFOBB THE DAWN . . 165 



POSITIVISM 



CHAPTER I. 

THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE. 

I. — A Recent Controversy, 

A RECENT controversy in the pages of the Nineteenth 
Century^ extending over many months, seems distinctly 
to mark a stage in modern speculations upon Theism. 
Three differing schools are championed by three pro- 
perly representative men, Mr. Frederic Harrison, Mr. 
Herbert Spencer, and Sir Fitzjames Stephen. Each 
of these comes forward with the consciousness of 
both prowess and reputation ; each feels the stimulus 
of a conflict with equals ; each presents his case with 
the latest lights and most mature arguments available. 
The tournament itself is a passing spectacle, but the 
topics are of eternal interest ; and yet constitute a 
burning question of the present hour. 

The clearest impression left upon one's mind at 
the close of the tilting is, that each of the three con- 
tending causes was favoured in its champion ; but 

B 



POSITIVISM. 



that each of the champions was unhappy in his cause. 
So long as any one of them attacks the system of 
his antagonists he is triumphant, but so soon as his 
own system is in turn attacked, it is rent with wounds. 
Mr. Spencer carries such heavy armour, Mr. Harrison 
shows such sprightly fence, Sir Fitzjames Stephen 
moves with such finished action, and so deftly delivers 
a mortal thrust, that one feels not only that they were 
all knights of metal true, but that each was on his 
metal, meeting foeman worthy of his steel ; which in 
the words of one who did not consciously follow 
Walter Scott reads : 

Ka/OTt<rTot yikv eaav koI Kaprla-rot*; efidy^ovro* 

Severally the cavaliers march off the field with their 
personal renown not only unharmed but untouched. 
On the field, however, each of them leaves his steed 
woefully maimed. Looking at them lying there in 
such evil plight, and thinking how high-prancing and 
high-snorting they were before the lists were joined, 
one feels that this is a moment when their merits 
may be soberly looked into. Indeed, this may be 
now done, and that with all modesty, even by humble 
persons destitute of any pretension to the accomplish- 
ments of the three unhorsed champions, and equally 
destitute of any pretension to a similar place in public 
consideration : persons, in fact, without any pretension 
whatever, except that of exercising the ordinary 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE, 



human right of forming an opinion on whatever is 
presented to our belief, and of saying what we think 
of It This simple right is one the exercise of which 
is challenged more or less loudly in proportion as 
things are propounded with an air of superiority, 
and an apparent expectation of unconditional 
acquiescence. 

Mr. Harrison represents Positivism, the faith and 
worship of Auguste Comte, the first clearly-defined 
movement in retreat of the Atheists. Mr. Spencer 
represents his own Agnosticism, a further develop- 
ment of the march in retreat from Atheism. Sir 
Fitzjames Stephen represents Deism, with a slight 
savour of easy-going Utilitarianism. The first two 
schools are akin in their origin, but divergent in their 
tendency. The third is hostile to both : to Positivism 
fundamentally and utterly; to Agnosticism in the 
sense of ridiculing an arrested development, when it 
is held up as an ideal type. The gage of battle 
thrown down to Christian and Deist by Harrison and 
Spencer is : Religion without God; that thrown down 
to Positivist, Agnostic, and Christian by Stephen is : 
God without Religion, It was not for any of the 
three to throw down the nobler gauntlet, God and 
Religion, It is significant that, while each combatant 
disputes one or other of the terms of that device, none 
of them dares to dispute them both united. 



B 2 



POSITIVISM. 



II. — Relations of Positivism to Agnosticism, 

Mr. Harrison commences with a full-toned commen- 
dation of the Religion of Humanity, and after it has 
been severely handled, ends by so pitifully minimising 
it, as to render it necessary for us to set out with an 
authentic idea of what it really is. And here I say 
at once that the writings of English Positivists are 
not my sources. I go to the master. According,, 
then, to Comte, not in any obiter dictum^ but in 
solemn form, the Religion of Humanity is that in 
which " Humanity has once for all substituted itself 
for God, without for a moment forgetting His pro- 
visional services." ^ These words sufficiently indicate 
the true doctrine of the system, and also its spirit ; 
but one other phrase of the Founder may help us to 
commence with a further insight of its essential traits. 
" To-day there remain but two camps : the one retro- 
grade and anarchic, wherein God confusedly presides ;. 
the other organic and progressive, systematically 
devoted to Humanity." ^ 

The relations between this well-defined school and 
that of our English Agnostics are keenly disputed 
both here and abroad. The Positivists claim Mr, 



' Caikhisme Positiviste^ p. 37, 2nd Edition. I quote this edition 
throughout, and am responsible for the translations. It was edited by 
^M. Pierre Lafitte, who, as is well known, on the death of Comte was 
installed as Director of Positivism. 

' Ensemble du Positivisfne^ p. 394. 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE. 



Spencer as one of their own flock, who has broken 
away from the fold. They assert that his leading 
ideas are derived from Comte. Yet Mr. Harrison 
plainly says that the writings of the master are to 
Mr. Spencer the Absolute Unknown, much as he is 
indebted to him through others. Mr. Spencer shows 
that he knows more of Comte than is good for the 
Cause of Positivism ; and yet he knows less than 
would be good for his own influence, especially for 
any hope of its permanence. Had he many years 
ago gone to the bottom of Comte, probably certain 
** debts," which in his Classification of the Sciences he 
gracefully acknowledges, would never have been con- 
tracted, and he would have moved in a clearer 
*" environment" So much does he follow Comte, 
consciously or unconsciously, and that often in the 
weakest procedure of his philosophy, that when 
Comtism is well grasped. Agnosticism is not hard 
to deal with. 

It is to be said, on the other hand, that in repelling 
the.^ charge of discipleship Mr. Spencer contrasts 
favourably with Comte when doing the same for him- 
self in respect of Saint-Simon, whose secretary he 
had been, with whose imprimatur had been issued his 
first essays as " by my pupil," and whom he never- 
theless called, in formal writing, " a superficial and 
depraved juggler." This slight estimate of a recon- 
structer of society, under whom the greater recon- 



6 POSITIVISM. 



structer had studied if he had not learned, was» 
however, too much of a piece with Comte's mode 
of speaking of public men when they were not either 
his disciples or his patrons. 

Not only is the influence of Comte great with the 
Agnostics, but some of our men of science, who in 
science would be ashamed to follow such a leader^ 
retail small tangled skeins of his philosophy, as if 
they were making the world wise. As to our so- 
called philosophical writers, very many of them send 
forth platitudes which are his, sometimes at second 
hand, sometimes at perhaps twenty-second. Hence 
the desirableness of knowing and understanding, not 
his unconscious followers, or avowed exponents^ 
but his own thoughts and intents. 

III. — Positivism a Movement in Retreat of Atheism. 

In saying that Positivism constitutes the first 
movement in retreat of the Atheists, I said what will 
be doubted in two opposite directions. The Comtist 
will say, We are not Atheists ; the student of Comt- 
ism will say, So far from being in retreat, they push 
forward beyond other Atheists ; for, while ordinary 
ones only deny God, they do more : they attempt 
to replace Him. The facts meet both of these 
allegations very simply. Sheer and bottomless as 
was the Atheism of Comte, dogged as was his 
determination to hold in his intellect rather thaa 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE, 



suflfer it to take any step whatever in a directioni 
which might lead up to God, yet neither intellectually 
nor morally could he content himself with the name 
of Atheist. He enlarges upon differences between 
himself and the Atheists, and his disciples echo his 
lucubrations. That is, he differs not from their being 
** without God," but only from their schemes of the 
origin or the system of the universe, and from their 
blunder in attempting to prove a negative. He felt 
that if you investigated the origin of the universe at 
all, more could be said for a Creator than for chance, 
or self-evolution ; and that if you investigated its ends, 
more could be said for a designing mind than for 
other hypotheses. 

He not only passed by but "rejected" all that he 
calls in his loose way "supernatural beliefs," meaning 
neither beliefs held by supernatural beings, nor beliefs 
infused into us by supernatural beings, but belief in 
the existence of any supernatural being — a belief which,. 
so far from being supernatural, is proved by all history 
to be perfectly natural to mankind ; so natural, that 
to find a man who could deliberately present to his 
own intellect and accept the assertion, No being. 
of higher grade than man exists, would be to find 
an unnatural creature. He imperatively forbade any 
seeking after a Cause, either original or final. He 
insisted that faith in One God, as well as in many 
gods, or in Fetishes, was a "fictitious" stage of the 



« POSITIVISM, 



human mind, impossible to it after it had once reached 
its maturity. Belief in a future life or a world to 
come, he spurned as a mere chimera. Any spiritual 
being, soul, angel, gods, or God, he swept out of 
the way as so much " fiction." Above all, he exulted 
in the superiority of Humanity to the Almighty ; in 
Her superiority as a real Goddess in contrast with a 
chimera god. Her superiority as a source of instruction, 
a beneficent Power, a true Providence, an object of 
worship. One phrase will represent many. I care- 
fully follow his own method of using capitals. "Our 
humble Goddess is exempt from the diverse caprices 
proper to her almighty precursor. Her actions of 
whatsoever kind follow appreciable laws." ^ 

When the smoke of the barricades of 1848 made 
him see all the clocks of time pointing to the hour 
for his great reconstruction, he issued his Ensemble du 
Positivisme bearing on the titlepage his motto : To 
re-organize without God or King ; and he might have 
added, without parliament. ^ When again, after Louis 
Napoleon's Coup d'etat, the smoke was once more in 
his eyes, he issued what in his own style he called 
'''a decisive proclamation," saying that the servants 
of Humanity came forward to take the direction of 
terrestrial affairs by "irrevocably excluding from 



' Catichispfu, p. 284. 

^Published separately, and reprinted in the Politique Positixte as 
Che preliminary discourse. 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE. 9 

political supremacy the various slaves of God, 
Catholics, Protestants, or Deists/' ^ All this he did, 
and much more of which this is the example ; but 
in the manly form of saying There is no God, he did 
not dare to say it. 

He fancied there was a logical gain in avoiding the 
verbal negative, whereas it was really only a rhetorical 
one. But the rhetorical effect was vast. It did not 
sound so ill. It made hasty readers say. He is no 
Atheist It opened curious distinctions between 
being " without God," and being Atheists. But 
viewed logically asserting that God was only a fiction 
and a chimera, was virtually not less a negative than 
asserting that He did not exist. He who should 
assert, " Queen Victoria is not Queen of England," 
would scarcely be in a more difficult case, than he who 
should assert : " Queen Victoria is only Queen of 
LillipuL" And even in a club of butterfly politicians 
lie who went about saying : I do not say Queen 
Victoria is not Queen of England, but I do say Queen 
Victoria is only Queen of Lilliput, would not pass 
either for a manly man or a thoughtful thinker. 
Comte simply took the advantage of a standing 
J>€titio principiL The question was begged : all super- 
natural beings were fictitious, and no inquiry into 
the matter was possible. On these data were all 
arguments based. 

* CcUichisme p. 3. 



10 POSITIVISM. 



IV. — Comte's Atheism Vindicated by his French 

Disciples. 

Among disciples this aspect of Positivism is 
represented in terms considerably affected by the 
"environment." The system is most robust in its 
native air. It speaks in our English atmosphere 
with bated breath. 

Comte's official biographer, Dr. Robinet (for Littr6 
is heretical, and in his Life offends the orthodox 
as much as Mill offended him), exults in the advent 
of Humanity as everywhere "replacing the ancient 
sovereignty"; for, he adds, Extinctis Diis Deoque^ 
successit Hutnanitas. Miss Martineau, in her abridged 
translation of Comte, left out the striking passage 
where, flouting the idea that the heavens declare the 
glory of God, he avers that they " do not declare 
any glory but that of Hipparchus, Kepler, Newton, 
and all the others who have contributed to estab- 
lish their laws." ' Mr. G. H. Lewes, in printing this^ 
tried to bewilder English readers by distinctions 
between Comte and Atheisfs. Dr. Congreve, in trans- 
lating the " proclamation " quoted above, substituted 
for Comte's phrase "slaves of God," which even 
Deists would resent, the term "servants of God,'* 
which to Christians would be the most honourable 
of names. Mr. Mill, while not concealing the 

^ Phiiosophie Positivty vol. 2, p. 36. 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE. \\ 

Atheism of Comte, goes so far as to say that one 
may be a good Positivist and believe in God. This- 
was too much : Count Wyrouboff, publishing a joint 
pamphlet with Littr^, cried that there was not to be 
in Positivism two opposite streams. Mill had done even 

worse than what I have said ; for a man may believe 
in God, and yet, if he always refuses to seek for the 
Cause of anything, to enquire either as to beginnings 
or endings, to ask Why ? he will draw away others 
from danger of believing in much more than Human- 
ity, and will probably get his own intellect trimmed 
down in time to the proper level. Therefore, great 
indeed was the offending of Mill. With representa- 
tives of theology and metaphysics, says Wyrouboff ;: 
we have often seen Positivists debating causes first 
and final, "but never before had positivist to argue 
against positivist that the hypothesis of the begin- 
ning and the end of things was incompatible with 
the character of the scientific mind. But that is 
what we are now brought to. The positivism of 
Mr. Mill does not oppose the indefinite search after 
the Why ? while M. Comte strongly condemns that 
search. . . . Mr. Mill lays down the principle that 
Mi^^ the positive method is not the negation of 
. the supernatural, but only pushes it back to 
Wyrouboff. the Origin of things. . . . Certainly, positive 
philosophy is not the negation of the philosophy of 
the supernatural ; if it denied [the italics arc minej 



12 POSITIVISM. 



anything whatever^ the part it would play would be a 
narrow one, and of short duration. For the old 
■dogma it substitutes dogma of its own, new dogma. 
^ . . If we suppose that it is compatible with the 
scientific spirit of our age to believe in an intelligence 
that directs the world and its destinies, conformably to 
the laws of what is called nature, how then shall we 
"distinguish Positivists from theologians who affirm 
that the creator made the laws, or from materialists, 
who maintain that it is atoms which have constructed 
and which rule the universe ? " ^ 

Notwithstanding all this, the fact remained that 
Positivism represented a movement of the Atheists 
in retreat, though a masked retreat. This became 
«ven more apparent when Comte began to treat ot 
morals. All previous essays of reconstruction "with- 
out God,'* had covered the artificers with evil repute, 
from laxity of moral principle. This Comte felt. 
He very fully recognized the necessity of a moral 
basis for society. He accepted from Christianity in 
the main its morals, making supposed amendments, 
<:hanging names, shifting sanctions, lowering scope, 
and asserting originality when there was palpable 
•copying, all which did not alter the fact that any gold 
and jewels of moral wealth he had to offer were found 
in the treasury of the Bible. 

» Auguste Comte et Stuart Mill, by E. Littr^ and G. Wyrouboff, 
Paris, 1867, p. 61-63. 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE, la 

The movement in retreat was accentuated when 
Comte, whose desire to frame a moral society was no* 
Further fcint, but perfectly sincere, showed his con- 
Rehrat. sciousness that framed it could not be on any 
other basis than that of a "faith" and a " religion/*^ 
To any mind less inconsequential than his own, the 
retreat in a philosophic point of view would have 
seemed complete when he arrived at the point of 
saying that the object of worship must be " A being 
like man, yet above man." This again he imagines 
was original, and certainly his application of the 
principle was as new as the principle itself was old. 
He lays down the axiom that "It is of necessity that 
our intelligence should make us conceive of a power 
without us so superior to ourselves that to it must be 
always subordinated our existence." ^ By just in- 
ference this would mean a power somewhat different 

A 

from Comte's favourite creature, the Grand-Etre, on 
the one hand, or from inorganic nature on the other. 
Another of his postulates is: "In order to regulate us 
[individually] and combine us, religion must first of 
all subordinate us to an external power of which the 
irresistible supremacy does not leave us in any 
incertitude. " « 



Politique Positive, Vol. 2, p. 12. Mr. Harrison's translation of 
this passage is freer and more elegant, but also 3rields a better basi& 
for theistic inferences. 

'^Politique Positive, 4, 12. 



:i4 ' POSITIVISM. 



The God who was to be replaced was not to be in 
terms denied. The religion that was to be super- 
seded was to have its moral standard, in the 
above us ^^sl^^j accepted. The new religion "without 
Confessed God," was to rest on the solemn recognition 
ecessary. ^^ ^ being external to ourselves, like us, and 
supreme over us. This posts the retreating Atheist at 
a point on the road leading to Mr. Spencer's ground of 
the unknowable Power, which is itself a day's march 
on the way to a sure resting place. But Comte really 
believed that in his unrivalled emanation, the Grand- 
Etre, or fully stated, in the Great Being, the Great 
Fetish, and the Great Environment, he had found all 
that he had postulated, all that human reason would 
demand, all that was necessary to check for ever the 
strange tendency of mankind to feel after God if 
haply they might find Him. He did not perceive 
that in backing from off the prayerless ground of 
Atheism, he had backed on to ground proper to 
Theism. He was compelled to postulate that an 
object of worship should be external to ourselves, and 
of indubitable supremacy. In this he followed human 
reason. He then assumed that these two conditions — 
Externality to man and Supremacy over man, — met 
within our species. In this he was not more in- 
consequential than he often is. We first tell the 
horses that in order to find the being under whom an 
individual horse may rise to the highest development 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE, 15 

of form and power, the being under whom also 
horses collectively may attain to the utmost perfec- 
tion in combined operation, they must look to a 
being who is first external to themselves, and in the 
second place of indubitable supremacy. We then 
tell them that to find this being they must not 
look higher than their own species, but must look 
within it ; must there discover the sum total of 
Equinity, and look up to this as their Great Being. 

V. — Self Deception of Positivists. 

It would seem that, as in other matters, so in 
respect of his self-deception as to the hold of Chris- 
tianity upon mankind, the English Comtists reflect 
the master. He ridiculously underrated that hold, 
whether he thought of Roman Catholicism, of which 
he knew something, or of Protestantism, of which he 
was so ignorant that, as to that point, Littre and Mill 
agree in giving him up. With Mr. Harrison self- 
deception as to the vitality of the religion of Christ 
proceeds so far that he thinks Mr. Spencer's demon- 
strations against the existence of a Living God 
**^ decisive," and he finds it hard to conceive how belief 
in it " can rally for another bout." 

Belief in a Living God is here face to face with 
Positivism. Agnosticism, and all forms of Unbelief; 
the greatest force existing among men. It is here 
in the marrow of tens of millions ; here warm in 



16 POSITIVISM, 



the homes where domestic bliss is best known ; here 
in the closets where day dawns the fairest and where 
at eventide there is light ; here in the peace of the 
happy and the purity of the good ; here in the zeal 
of the holy and the compassions of the humane ; 
here in the first intuitions of the child and the last 
conclusions of the sage ; ^ here in the simple notions 
of peasant, mariner, and pioneer ; here in the learned 
lights of those who study nature with open face, not 
with intellect bandaged to shut out causes or designs* 
Ay, science herself, in spite of some of her able 
professors, is on all fields busied in finding, hewing, 
and polishing stones for the ever-growing temple to- 
the Known God : temple that will stand while the 
world stands. 

But this is a digression. Mr. Harrison intended 
no step in retreat when, referring to what he calls, after 
the master, the primitive and the final forms of the 
religion of man, he wrote : " Both rest on the same 
elements, belief in the Power which controls his life^ 
and grateful reverence for the power so acknow- 
ledged." But, however a Comtist may fetter his 
mind till he shall have no larger ideas to attach to 
words like these, than the influence of the race gener- 
ally over us as individuals, human nature is by such 
words carried out to a world beyond the race, beyond 

^ An able paper in The London Quarterly Revieuf on the philosophy of 
Mr. Spencer (No. cxx.) has these words : " Theism is the Brst instinct 
and the last conviction of reflective humanity." 



THE GENERAL POSITION OF COMTE. 17 

its reach, and to a Power which transcends all phe- 
nomena and originates all laws. 

If some have excelled in the art of teaching men 
to read into words meanings they were put together 
to exclude, no one could excel Comte in teaching how 
to read out of them all correct meaning, and keep the 
husk. " Power " to an ordinary man has a full and 
noble signification. We shall see what it has to a 
Positivist, who can call Comte's goddess " The Power 
which controls our life," who can believe that, while 
the Primitive man thought it was nature," the Cultured 
man knows that power to be Humanity.*' At least 
two members of the genus " cultured man,'* instead 
of regarding as a Power an unknowable entity on 
which Comte fixes the cognomen of Humanity, 
unite in regarding that goddess as a conceit quite as 
shadowy and comical as she is taken to be by any of 
us Christians. Yet these " cultured men " are no 
Christians. 

To appreciate properly the self-deception of Comte 
and his followers as to the incomparable scientific 
and philosophic superiority of their own religion over 
Christianity, it is necessar}'' to have a clear view of 
what they mean by Humanity, and what by the 
Religion of Humanity. 



18 POSITIVISM, 



CHAPTER II. 

THE POLITY OF COMTE. 

I. — Comtes Reconstruction of Society. 

COMTE can never be rightly judged, whether as 

to his moral sentiments or as to his philosophical 

^, principles, without a clear conception of his 

Great life-long aim : an aim which his disciples are 

^'"'* justified in viewing as the continuous thread 

that holds together his entire system. Of this aim 

neither Mill nor Littrd caught a distinct view till 

after, — attracted by strong "theological" sympathy, 

— they had committed themselves beyond recall to 

make his reputation. When they were awoke by 

strange things, they tried to persuade themselves, 

each in a different way, that what they had admired 

ought to have led up to something if not solid at 

least not " ridiculous." But between them that 

term " ridiculous" gave rise to words. " It hurts," 

pensively says M. Littr^, "my sentiment of equity^ 

nay, my artistic sentiment, that this drear)' word 

should be the last that remains on the mind of Mr. 

Mill's reader" . . . "the last word of the last 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 19 



» 



sentence is ridiculous." Littre would have taken 
leave more handsomely ; for, indeed, he held that 
the "absurdities" of M. Comte "were more patho- 
logic than philosophic." They may easily have been 
more pathologic, since perhaps the absurdities of no 
man are philosophic. < 

That, however, does not impair the evidence that 
ail his life long Comte had in view the practical 
Tiie New scheme which scared away those who had 
spintual hoped for great things from the man who 

^*^'^' taught people to organize without God, and 
not to call themselves Atheists. Four years before 
the first volume of Positive Philosophy was issued 
sixteen before the last, Comte had published his 
Considerations sur le Pouvoir SpiritueL His official 
representative, M. Pierre Lafitte, says " he never did 
more than add the perfecting to this great cUbtity 
which will be eternally read and read again as one 
of his most powerful creations."^ Had Mr. Mill read 
it before he made in England a name for Comte, it 
is not certain that he would have troubled himself 
with his later creations. The leading idea of this 
essay is the separation of the spiritual and temporal 
powers. According to the accurate analysis of M. 
Pierre Lafitte, the new Spiritual Power was to control 
education, by means of it to form the opinions 

' Atiguste Comte ci Stuart Mill, p. 6. 
' Kevue Occidental, Vol. ii., p. 171. 

C2 



V 



20 positivism: 



and feelings of children, thus to secure influence over 
them in mature age, and a power of counselling with 
authority. Out of this would spring national and 
international functions of the Spiritual Power ; it 
would direct opinion in each country, would establish 
harmony of opinion between the different countries, 
and would make itself the organ of collective opera- 
tions. To these ends would be absolutely essential 
moral formulas to be universally accepted. 

Already Comte could " read out " from the word 
" spiritual " all the proper meaning of spirituality, 
leaving behind only the meaning of intellectual. 
Whether he yet saw or did not see how to read out 
from the word Religion all meaning of a bond to God, 
Debasing ^^ ^ bond between mankind and things 
Terms, unseen, of a bond between every man and 
a common Father, therefore between each man and 
every other as two brothers — ^an idea lowered by 
Comte to the level of two " others," — ^whether or not 
he yet saw how to perform this feat, does not appear. 
But had Mill or men like him had the scheme here 
outlined in their eye, the early pages of the Philo- 
sop/lie Positive would have prepared them to find that 
the all-dominating law of the Three States had been 
" discovered" as the basis of the philosophic structure^ 
on which were to rest the moral formulas for universal 
acceptance, on which, again, was to rest the authority 
of the Spiritual Power. This impression would have 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 21 

been confirmed and defined when they came to his 
history of human progress, in which the practical 
end, the final cause, of the " law " of the Three States 
crops out at every turn. That even when writing 
this the details of his religion were present to his 
own imagination, I do not believe ; but the essential 
end of the universal dominion of a Priesthood, ruling 
without Kings or Parliaments, and without any higltly 
educated class but themselves, was as clear to him 
then as at the last 

In fact, the founder of Mr. Harrison's religion was 
one of the many reconstructors of society, artificially 
hatched in the hot embers left behind by the great 
revolution. He thought that the centre of such 
reconstruction had been shifted from Rome to Paris. 
He best knew the principles and methods of the 
Parisian reconstructors, yet he saw the historic 
advantage of the Papal ones. Avowedly he followed 
the leading ideas of M. De Maistre, and it is manifest 
that he was greatly stimulated by Lamennais.^ So his 
type was to be the Media:val Papacy ; and at first he 
would seem to have admitted a temporal power 
analagous to the mediaeval Emperor. He says that 
perhaps in the new order of things it may be necessary 

* In the GtschicU des Vaiicanishin JConzils, by J. Friedrich, 1877, is 
a good sketch of the earlier stage of the Papal movement of recon- 
struction, not yet published when I wrote my own History of the Vatican 
Council. 



22 POSITIVISM. 



to have " a certain degree of temporal sovereignty, 
extending over the most advanced nations." ^ This, 
however, in his mature scheme, completely disappears. 
He was not going to have a " two-headed monster," 
as Cardinal Manning accused Mr. Bryce of making 
the duplex power of Pope and Emperor ; Mr. Bryce's 
fault being that he forgot the claims of doctrinal 
symmetry in simple historical truth. Comte's new 
Spiritual Power was not to be imperilled by any great, 
concentrated temporal power. Meditation on his 
plan would show him how incompatible with its 
requirements would prove in practice powerful 
national governments, or one central temporal power. 
The following sentence is worth weighing: "The 
spiritual power will be of course invested, in relation 
to the different nations and their temporal chiefs, with 
such a measure of authority as may be indispensable 
in order to their being led voluntarily or involuntarily 
[italics mine] to submit their disputes to its arbitra- 
tion, and to receive from it a common impulse in cases 
calling for collective action." ^ 

Even at the outset, though in an undecided way 

admitting the possibility of some central temporal 

The New P^^^^* ^^ essential feature of his reconstruc- 

PHesi- tion was not that. "The thing necessary 

^'^^' beyond dispute is the establishment of a doc- 

1 Politique Positive^ Vol. iv., page 213 of the Appendix. 
* Politique Positive^ Vol.iv., p. 196 Appendix. 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 23 

trine of Society common to the different nations, and 
consequently [tht italics mine] of a spiritual sovereignty 
capable of maintaining this doctrine, by organising 
a European education, and by afterwards applying 
it suitably in practical relations." ^ This great Occi- 
dental Sovereignty was the end and ideal of M. 
Comtc from first to last. A sharp separation of 
men into classes being one of his guiding principles, 
"the action of the Spiritual Power'* became "in- 
dispensable to establish and maintain a social classifi- 
cation conformed to the spirit of the system." He 
made no secret that the original idea of his King- 
dom of priests without God, was derived from the 
Romish idea of the Kingdom of God as the govern- 
ment of all men by the Pope through the clergy. 
We are not, he says, to be astonished that this 
government of Europe should be viewed by Catholic 
philosophers as the principal and characteristic attri- 
bute of the spiritual power. * 

fl' Model '^^^^ his original end, consistently kept 

of Ke- in view, gave colour to all Comte saw in 

construction, ^^ture, or read in books. While at the 

Vatican they were assuming that the Bishop of Rome 
was- the successor to the place and powers of the 
mediaeval pope, Comte held that his day was past, 
his creed exhaled away from human souls, his moral 

* Politiqiu Positive^ Vol. iv., p. 213, Appendix. 

^ Politique Positive, Vol. iv., 196, Appendix. Ut supra, p. 212. 



24 POSITIVISM. 



ascendency for ever lost Therefore must there be 
another head, the High Priest of Humanity, who, 
and not the Bishop of Rome, should guide the wheels 
of the reconstituted world. While at Rome they 
aimed at the perfecting of the machinery of recon- 
struction by means indicated in first passing a dogma 
without a General Council — ^thus setting up empirical 
autocracy — and next by getting a General Council to 
make a dogma of the Pope's infallibility, thus estab- 
lishing legal autocracy, Comte aimed at it by the 
monopoly of education ; thus accepting from Rome 
her exterior circle of means, while for her inner circle 
of dogma, substituting dogma of his own. 

It is natural for patrons like Mill and Littr^ to 
complain when they find that Comte's Atheism leads 
to a religion, and that the religion is " outrageous,'* 
"absurd," " ridiculous." It is, however, for dignitaries 
of his church, like M. Pierre Lafitte, to cry : Every tem- 
poral power needs to be counselled, consecrated, and 
regulated. This triple operation presupposes a com- 
mon doctrine and a priesthood, with a public which, 
by approving or disapproving, reacts on the temporal 
power. That public is formed of women and the 
working classes. This, then, is the sum of the grand 
construction. The problem of the Nineteenth Century 
is precisely the constitution of a priesthood, the basis 
of such an organization ; and this is indicated by the 
decisive formula of Auguste Comte, adopted as motto 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 25 

by me, in my annual circulars, viz. " The formation of 
the positive priesthood becomes the first condition of 
a regeneration not less indispensable for order than 
for prc^ess."' 

II. — Tlu New Nations. 

Without a clear view of this programme no one 
of Comte's processes can be seen through. With it 
in our eye, we can admire how he first clears the 
ground, and can appreciate the * grand construction," 
he proceeds to rear on the vacant place. All great 
nations are to disappear ; for even the reconstructors 
of the Vatican have not a stronger prejudice 
against "nationalism," than had Comte against 
great countries. His reason assigned, however, is 
like himself, strangely inconsequential. Great nations 
dissipate the sentiment of patriotism by diffusing 
it over too wide a surface ! To great nations are to 
succeed small States of a million or a million and 
a-half of population. Both kings and parliaments 
are to take their departure; for the first are dan- 
gerous to the Spiritual Power, and the second are 
hateful, very hateful, to M. Comte. I do not 
remember that according to the formula dear to 
Pius IX. he called them the Tower of Babel. The 

^ Remu Occidentale^ Vol. ii., p. 171. I condense M. Lafitte, but 
ghre only bis words. 



26 POSITIVISM. 



Western World, then, is to be composed of some 
sixty small republics. 

At the head of this group of States, seated in 
Paris, "the metropolis of the regenerated Occident," 
TfieNew ^^^^ ^^^ High Priest of Humanity. Or, in 
Suprenu the nobler language of Dr. Robinet, the 
whole priesthood, in its various orders of 
aspirants, vicars, and ordained priests, is constantly 
and intimately bound together and directed by a 
sole organ, a supreme head, the High Priest of 
Humanity, whose eternal see is Paris, future metropo- 
lis of the regenerated West, which will be hereafter 
the spiritual centre of our earth. To this august 
functionary belongs the government of the Positivist 
clergy, and the general direction of collective human 
kind. I 

This "august functionary" is to receive from the 
State an annual income of £2^00^ besides allowances 
for the expenses of his "immense'* administration. 
He directly rules the clergy over the whole extent 
of the States ; appointing, changing, dismissing them 
all on his own " moral responsibility." Any priest 
aspiring to political power by flattering either the 
capitalist class on the one hand, or the working 
classes on the other, is to be excluded from the 
priesthood. To assist the High Priest, four National 



• (Euvre et Vie ctAuguste Comtek p. 80. 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 27 

Superiors preside respectively over the Italian, 
Spwinish, German, and British "Churches." 

Thus it will be noted that while he abolishes 
nationality as respects the political organization, he 
retains it in the ecclesiastical. Therefore for Italians, 
Spaniards, Germans, and Britons, respectively, the 
sole representative of a national authority would be 
the Chief Ecclesiastic, the National Superior. The 
French, of course, would have the High Priest him- 
self, to whom the others would be as Provincials 
to the General of an Order. Ranking Germany 
and England after Spain is intentional, according 
accurately with Comte's appreciation, which as to 
our own nation ' was anything but flattering. 

The succession to the office of High Priest rests, 

like all other power, with him. He names his own 

successor. But the unanimous consent is required 

of the four National Superiors. In case of their not 

agreeing, the opinion of the two thousand " deans " is 

taken. The Deans are the heads of the two thousand 

Philosophical Presbyteries^ otherwise called Sacred 

Orders of ColUges, A College is composed of seven 

f^ priests and three vicars. Each college stands 

^^' beside a Temple of Humanity, and parallel 

with a Positive School. The temple is surrounded 

by a "sacred grove," where lie those selected dead 

who, by a post-mortem judgment conducted by the 

priests, at the end of seven years after decease, are 



28 POSITIVISM, 



proclaimed worthy of incorporation with the Goddess 
Humanity. These are carried in "pomp" from their 
temporary grave to the sacred grove. The priest 
may be ordained at forty-two years of age. He 
resides in the college, and is entitled to four hundred 
and eighty pounds a year, besides travelling expenses 
on "diocesan tours." He must be married, but if 
widowed once, widowed for life. He must renounce 
all private property, and is absolutely forbidden to 
earn money, beyond his regular stipend. 

Of the two lower orders of clergy, the Vicars 
only form part of the spiritual power, and even they are 
not entitled to teach or preach except by dispensation. 
They may enter the order at the age of thirty-five, 
and are under the same law as the priests in respect 
of property and marriage. Their stipend is ;f240 
a year. 

Below the Spiritual Power lies the third order of 
clergy, the Aspirants, whose numbers, unlike the 
two higher orders, are unlimited. Entering the 
order at the age of twenty-eight, they exercise no 
function of the spiritual power. They receive ;£^I20 
a year, and their renunciation of private property 
is only provisional. The clergy are to include 
the medical profession, and all the social organs 
of intellectual life, regulating even "coinage, 
measures, &c." 

The time for the advent to power of this great 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 29 

heirarchy is not far off. "Before the end of the 
nineteenth century," France is to be divided into 
seventeen small republics, Scotland, Ireland, and 
Wales are all to be severed from England, similar 
partitioning is to take place elsewhere, and if Ireland 
and Portugal are not themselves sub-divided, they 
will be the largest states remaining! So will the 
arena be prepared for the due separation of the 
two powers. 

III. — The New Temporal Power, 

The new temporal power is divided into two 

classes, the Patriciat and the ProUtaires. We 

have no words exactly to correspond to 

and^^ Comte's idea of these: I shall call them 
iVprking the Capitalists and the working men. 

"^^' But I am scarcely justified in calling the 
working men a portion of the temporal power. 
They and the women are the outside populace, 
who by opinion and influence may act upon the 
Power, but who cannot act otherwise upon it 
except through the priests. These, again, are 
without any armed force or any right to employ 
it; but supported by the women and the working 
men, they have a right to counsel with authority. 

The Power so to be counselled by authority 
consists in each State of the three principal bankers 



'30 POSITIVISM, 



formed into a triumvirate. There is, the reader 
must understand, no realm in which matters are 
so exactly regulated as in the territory of M. 
Comtes goddess. Taking the population of the 
whole West, as he then set it, at one hundred and 
twenty millions, the allowance of capitalists is fixed 
precisely at seven hundred and two thousand. That 
number is sufficient. They consist of two thousand 
bankers, one hundred thousand merchants, two hun- 
dred thousand manufacturers, and four hundred 
thousand farmers. In those hands is all capital 
to be concentrated; to be used freely on their own 
"moral responsibility." Upon such a concentration 
of capital and civil command Comte looks with 
profound complacency. "Thus condensed in certain 
families, forming in each State scarcely a thirtieth 
part of the population, the temporal power will be 
all the more sensible of its duties as well as of its 
force; and will be conscious of a standing necessity 
of justifying, by a worthy public exercise of it, an 
authority without external brilliancy." ^ 

Two thousand bankers will correspond to the two 
thousand temples of Humanity, each of which will be 
under the protection of an "adjacent" banker, who 
by command of the Triumvirate will hand to the 
clergy their stipends. Hence will arise intimate 
relations between the priests and the industrial 



^ Politique Positive^ II. 415, 416. 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 31 

chiefs, so as to keep alive in the latter the veneration 
for the clergy, resulting from their own education, 
prolonged by that of their children. Public insti- 
tutions common to different countries are to be in 
the hands of the priests: that is, coinage, measures, 
and such like. With these the Temporal Power of 
the particular States is not to interfere, except to 
promote foundations by providing proper expenses. 
Others than priests are not to be forbidden to 
educate, but as they will only be inferior men, their 
competition will be of small account All work is 
to be held as gratuitous service to Humanity. All 
occupations to be regarded as public functions. Yet 
every family is to own its own house, and a mite of 
ground, and every workman is to have his wage 
separated into two portions, one constant, work or 
no work, the other contingent. Every capitalist is 
to have absolute control over the use and trans- 
mission of his funds. Trades are to be hereditary. 
Society is to be in all matters "systematized" by 
the priests, and to what extent such systematizing 
will proceed may be conjectured from the fact that 
the only example of human life as now existing 
which to Comte appeared to be organized was 
military life. 

Women are to hold no property whatever. In this, 
he says, they are like the Priests ; but the latter 
have their assured salaries, their unapproachable 



32 POSITIVISM, 



position, and their educational ascendant But just 
as in the case of the working classes the absence of 
all political life and action is to be compensated 
by personal comfort, so in the case of the women is 
the absence of all right of property to be com- 
pensated by some special ascendency of woman over 
man, of the " emotional sex," over the intellectual 
one ; an ascendency to be confirmed and sublimated 
by the worship of mother, wife, and daughter, and by 
the institution of man thinking under the inspiration 
of woman : one of the most potent of Comte's spe- 
cifics. To harmonize with this he is always putting 
the intellect under the emotions, never taking time 
to show how our feelings towards M. Comte, or any 
one else, depend on our ideas of him. If we take him 
for a sage, as his disciples do, we feel one sort of 
emotion ; if for a great muser and a weak reasoner, 
as some of us do, we feel another sort of emotion ; if 
for " an Atheist and a madman," as his wife did, we 
feel a third sort. The emotions solicit and react upon 
the conceptions ; but the conceptions mould the 
emotions. 

Thus, then, is the regenerated West to sit, free 
from war, with one type of education, "uniform" 
customs, and common festivals. And mark the 
climax! "The High Priest of Humanity will, better 
than any pope of the Middle Ages, constitute the 
only chief truly occidental. At need he will be able 



THE POLITY OF COMTE, 88 

to concentrate the whole sacerdotal action in order 
to repress any tyrannical triumvirate, by invoking, 
it may be, the neighbouring cavaliers, or even the 
peaceable mediation of impartial governments."' 

I had omitted the chivalry. They are to be an 
order of voluntary protectors of the clergy, to 
guarantee them against temporal tyranny. They 
will consist of capitalists and command "immense" 
funds. 

IV. — Centralisation of the New Power. 

To complete the view of the concentration of 
authority, it is only necessary to add that, while in 
all orders and classes the incumbent of office names 
his successor, the owner of property his heirs, there 
is to this rule one portentous exception The 
succession to all offices among the clergy is in the 
hands of the High Priest of Humanity alone! They 
have no property, they are changed or dismissed at 
his will, they may not earn a shilling by pen or spade ; 
and their offices all lapse to one lord. No dispute 
about investiture or institution shall ever trouble the 
commonwealth in which Mr. Harrison invites us 
ill-governed English to make our abode. "It is 
only in the spiritual order that all appointments are 

* CatichUnu Positive^ p. 319. Without going to the ponderous books 
any one may verify every touch in my outline from the Catechism alone. 

D 



34 POSITIVISM. 



in the hands of the supreme head, to obtain a 
sufficient concentration of so difficult an office." * 

This, then, is the territory laid out by M. Comte. 
When I saunter round it, I feel a rising wish that 
it had been visited by my simple-minded fellow- 
countryman, Jonathan Swift I People would like to 
hear from him what was to be seen there. He 
failing, perhaps Lord Spencer could frame an idea of 
the happiness of figuring as Temporal Power in a 
commonwealth where the proportions of that same 
were those of a respectable provincial banker, having 
on each hand another provincial banker, and called 
to face a Dean commanding all the professional men 
and schoolmasters, backed by a National Superior, 
backed by a universal High Priest able to concen- 
trate, according to Comte*s express intention, the 
sacerdotal action of his " unlimited " army of abso- 
lute dependents, all of whom would be regulars, 
no seculars whatever. 

The one thing which Comte most frequently sets 
down to the credit of "Catholicism," is "the separation 
of the powers," of which he makes, as shown above, 
his own modification. He is so ignorant of the 
origin, principles, and spirit of Christianity, that it 
always, for practical purposes, rises up into his 
view in the tiara. He takes Paul for its founder ; 
assuming that he, out of self-abnegation, set forward 



' Caidchisnuy p. 107. 



THE POLITY OF COMTE, 36 

a fictitious founder.' He takes the law of loving 
our neighbour as ourselves, to be a "Catholic" 
formula, though he did know of Moses,-^perhaps as 
much as may be gathered from some general reading, 
takes it as more modern than the " ancient," rule, of 
" treating another as you would wish to be treated by 
him."2 Even in respect of the point on which his whole 
programme depends, the separation of the powers, he 
knows not the facts, and misconstrues the relations. 

Instead of the Papacy separating the spiritual power 
from the temporal. Constantine had found himself in 
face of a power which, in complete separation from 
the temporal, had through centuries of waxing force 
become so strong that it and the Emperor must reckon 
with one another. He it was who set the spiritual 
office of the ministers of Christ on the temporal lines 
of the Roman Magistracy, and the strife of the 
"Catholicism" which is Comte*s Christianity was to 
absorb into "spiritual" officers, the operative powers 
of temporal chiefs — titles, lands, right of levying tax, 
judicial functions, and power over peace and war. 



' These incredible assertions occur in the Catichisnu. See inter alia 
p. 225. It is at p. 351 that we have the following : ** Catholicism 
arose . . . under the impulsion, too much overlooked, of the incompar 
able Paul, whose sublime personal abnegation facilitated the movement of 
nascent unity, by allowing a false founder to take the front place. 
Dontla sublime abrUgaiionpersonelle facilita Vessor de PuniW ncUssante^ 
em kdssemt prevaloir unfauxfoundateurJ* 

' Caiichismt^ p. 279. 

D 2 



M POSITIVISM. 



He must in all things abstract and generalize, still 
and always generalize. He generalized a separation 
from temporal functions of the original office of the 
Christian ministry into a separation normal under the 
mediaeval papacy, whereas it really existed and 
wrought marvels chiefly in times before the word 
Catholicism was written, and became more and more 
effaced as soon as the Papacy arose, and in proportion 
as it prevailed. In this he only once more leaped over 
the rising walls of history. But, like the constructers 
elsewhere, he had his own sense of "separation." 
The Spiritual Power was to be separated from the 
Temporal, in the sense in which in our navy the 
power of the Captain is separated from that of the 
Sailing Master — it was of a higher order, and was to 
have the rights of superiority. 

Having now before us the Polity Comte proposed 
to erect, we are prepared to look at the philosophical 
principles on which it was to be grounded. They are, 
not less than his Polity, characteristic of his personal 
peculiarities ; and when once they have been really 
mastered may be stated in a form easily understood. 
His disciples say that science led him to philosophy, 
and philosophy to religion and polity. Only disciples 
will adopt that view. He began as a reconstructer 
of society with and among Veconstructers. Polity was 
his end ; to this at first he may have taken philosophy 
without religion as the sufficient means. To obtain 



THE POLITY OF COMTE. 37 

a proper system of such philosophy science must 
be recast After all it appeared that though he could 
invent a philosophy without God, by framing sciences 
without God, he could not apply that philosophy to 
purposes of practical reconstruction without a 
religion. Polity led him to philosophy, to science, 
and to religion in turn ; all these being but the 
stepping stones to his one end. 



38 POSITIVISM. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 

I. — Essentially a Restriction of Tliought and Inquiry. 

In whatever else he suffered under self-illusion, 
Comte thoroughly realized the impossibility of his 
Polity being set up, before the way had been prepared 
by a philosophy which should train the human mind 
to observe the phenomena of nature without seeing 
in them any token of a Creator. He fancied that 
belief in God had already disappeared ; but acting on 
the principle that nothing is really displaced until it 
is replaced, he felt that to prevent such belief from 
coming back, a religion must be constructed with a 
new Faith, Worship, and Rule of Conduct He also 
felt that no such religion could be accepted till the circle 
of the sciences should be taught on the principle of 
habituating men to avoid any deeper thinking than 
what was involved in observing phenomena and 
inquiring into their so-called laws — habituating them 
to avoid all thinking as to the nature of things, as to 
the cause of events, as to the origin of finite things^ 
as to the end of arrangements manifestly temporal, 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 39 

all thinking as to the purpose of structures which 
come into being fitted beforehand for offices to them- 
selves unknown, as to the source of forces uniting 
into one system widely sundered worlds, as to the 
adjustment of all things ; as to any Author of it and 
them. 

In giving this estimate of the system, vhich to me 
appears the simplest of truths, I know that I am 
directly contradicting representations as to profound 
thinking, great thinking, deep philosophy, and so 
forth, which have occupied the public mind, accredited 
sometimes by names of weight, and often by vigorous 
assertion. Hence no fear need trouble me, that any 
one will take on trust one word of mine, without veri- 
fying it. On the other hand, I may hope that no one 
will take it on trust that they must be in the right who 
say the opposite of what has just been said ; and that 
it must have been spoken inconsiderately. Never did 
man speak with more deliberation than do I in saying 
that the ponderous and labyrinthian speculations of 
Comte practically result in an apparatus of expedients 
for forestalling deep thinking, by providing men 
with makeshift explanations, and even by 

A SysUm of ^' ^u c i • i 

Makeshift preventing them from seeking any explana- 

Expiana- tion. If you suppose that in so saying I 

have neglected in the first place to know 

whereof I affirm, and in the next place to weigh 

beforehand what I say, I welcome and invite your 



40 POSITIVISM. 



careful exploration of the author himself ; but confess 
that I shall not set much store by your impressions 
caught from current representations. 

II. — His Works and Principles, 

Four years after he had issued his original outline 
of a Polity, appeared the first volume of Philosophie 
Positive^ in the publication of which work passed 
away twelve years. This work announced itself as 
the precursor of the great construction. After nine 
years of interval appeared the first volume of the 
Politique Positive^ or Positive Polity, for which the 
former work was supposed to have ripened the 
human mind. In the three succeeding years were 
issued the three other volumes. My copy of this 
work bears in a large firm hand the inscription : A M. 
le baron Alexandre de Humboldt hommage de fauteur 
Auguste Comte PariSy le 26 Bichat 67 (28 Dicembre^ 
1855). One of the standing boasts of Comte's 
admirers is that among those who had been seen at 
some of his lectures, Humboldt was to be reckoned. 
Of his presentation copy of the great work which 
embodied the final polity of all mankind, Humboldt 
had cut open two leaves, partially cut one or two 
more, and not another. I have preserved the book 
much as I found it. It will be remarked that Comte, 
in dating, uses his own calendar, his month being 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 41 

Bichat, his year 6"/ ; yet out of respect to such of 
mankind as yet lingered in the old style he subjoined 
the vulgar date. 

What, then, was the Positive Philosophy which was 
to lay the foundations for the superstructure of the 
great polity of a Mandarin-Brahman-Papal hier- 
archy? It was a system of universal 

His System . r • ^ j i^-i i. 

is Science ^^^^^'^'^y professmg to educe a philosophy 

smiyecudto from observed phenomena, but in reality 

^rkihu!^ preceding science by an i priori dogmatic 

philosophy, and limiting research in science 

to such points as could be made to illustrate that 

philosophy. Here again I fly in the face of great 

authorities ; and if I am wrong shall have only 

reproach for my pains. Setting out with the 

assumption that the human race has now outgrown 

every form of " theological belief," which, be it well 

noted, means belief in either gods many or One 

God ; the Positive Philosophy treats of the various 

sciences on the fore-announced conclusion that each 

of them, and in particular astronomy, is fatal to 

any such belief. 

Comte's survey , of natural science leads up to the new 
science of sociology. This is based on the assumption 
that '* law " means in morals, as it does in matter, a 
rule "invariable" in the sense of being inviolable. 
Hence the consequence that no free agents exist 
among us any more than on high This conclusion 



42 POSITIVISM. 



IS facilitated by the assumption of certain principles, 
the most extraordinary ever passed by sane men as 
enunciated by a sane man. First : in the positive 
state of mind, man properly speaking, that is, the 
individual, does not exist, or is only a pure abstrac- 
tion ; what is real is Humanity. Secondly : Society 
is an organism ; not an organization merely, but an 
organism. Thirdly : in Society no such thing as 
rights exist, only duties. The word rights must be 
banished from morals just like the word "causes" 
from philosophy.^ 

III. — Only Phenofnena and Laws to be studied. 

In treating of any science, no facts are consciously 
allowed to enter into the field of vision beyond phe- 
nomena and so-called laws. A thing is covered 
with a nimbus forbidding you to search into its 
nature. An event is fenced off by a line behind it 
forbidding you to inquire into its cause, and by a 
second line before it forbidding you to inquire into its 
design. Whether of a thing or of an event, you are 
to take its appearance, its phenomenon, and not to 
R triciion ^^^ behind the phenomenon for an expla- 
in/ /^ nation of the phenomenon. That is, you 
Field of 2^j.g j^Q^ ^Q \o(^ within a thing for the 

View. ^ ^ 

nature of the thing. Not to look behind 

' Pos. Phil., VI., 692. V Esprit Posiiif, 74. Catichisnu, p. 296. 
La notion du droit doit disparaitre du domaine politique, comme la 
notion de cctuse du domaine philosophique. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 4S 

an event for the cause of it, or before it for the design ; 
not to look above an adjustment for a harmonizing* 
mind, or above worlds adjusted to worlds for one all 
uniting Power. You are to observe the appearance, 
and to trace out its laws. 

These so-called laws, we must bear in mind, are 
the ** invariable " rules, incapable of being broken or 
altered, which are observed in the operations of 
lUusiroHoH inorganic matter. Suppose, for instance, 
of you see a mail coach, you are to note 
oac . .^^ appearance, length, breadth, height, 
colour, and so forth. Farther, you are to search for 
its law — eight miles an hour, or nine, or ten. Having 
learned these you have learned all that a thing 
like you was made to learn. Dare not to assume 
that the appearance, though a perfectly trustworthy 
index of the coach, is not the coach, and never 
professed to be. The coach itself, remember, is a 
phenomenon, an appearance. Dare not to say that 
the very use of the appearance is to make you aware 
of the presence of much that does not appear, and to 
remind you of the existence of many things not here 
present. Dare not to say that the phenomenon tells 
you of a post office, a correspondence, a commerce, a 
community, a legislation and an Executive Head. 
Perhaps you may reply : Not to let it tell me of any- 
thing, but its shapes, colours, motions, and its law of 
velocity, would be to put myself in the place of the 



44 POSITIVISM. 



dog who stares at the show. Even he, after he has 
observed it several times, knows more, knows better 
than that the law of the coach lies in any rule of 
proportion between the rate of its velocity and the 
horse-power. Of such rule he may know nothing ; 
but he does know that the law of the coach is in the 
coachman, who no sooner sets foot on the step, than 
ofif bounds the dog, anticipating velocity as the result 
of command. The village boy knows that if the law 
of the coach lies in the coachman, the law of the 
coachman lies in the Postmaster-General, and the 
law of the Postmaster-General in the Sovereign. But 
neither dog nor boy could know what they do know, 
were the rules of Comtism the law of even animal 
mind. It is perfectly true that in practice the rule 
laid down is not observed by Comte or anyone else ; 
but that does not recall the laying of it down, nor 
prevent the attempt to work according to it from 
bridling the movement of mind and warping its 
direction. 

IV. — Comte' s Fundamental Law of the Three States, 

Before the Philosophic Positive introduces the reader 
to any science, it largely pre-occupies the mind with 
metaphysical axioms as to certain psychological laws, 
which all the sciences in turn are to illustrate. These 
are announced as a grand discovery ; even the dis- 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 46 



covery of the Law of the Three States. It is this 
discovery which has enabled the human race — for 
to the elated discoverer the feat is actually performed ; 
— to effect its transition from the long, weary stages 
of its preparation, into its final stage of mature 
development, of emancipation and repose. This 
matchless discovery, this "grand fundamental law," 
is proudly borne by the inventor as the golden key 
which has opened to him the three realms of the past, 
the present, and the future. It is, as I said, a law of 
our psychological constitution and states ; and though 
M. Comte is just about to enact that we shall not 
Breaks his inquire into the nature of things or into 

fo'i^uiJilng their origin, he himself, having to work 
hisChie/Law. with a human mind, breaks both these 
rules in the act of enunciating the law before he gets 
to the part of it that specifies them ! All his law says 
is about the " nature " of mind ! This is one aliqtiid 
hutnanum, human weakness. A second is that he 
assigns, and that without hesitation or alternative, an 
origin to this nature of the mind ; the origin is not 
from " nothing " ; he is too logical for that. It is not 
from Chance ; he contemns those who would account 
for things by that. It is not from a Creator ; the 
idea of such a being is a mere imagination. It is 
from " invariable necessity.*' This, like Chance, is 
a metaphysical name, serving to rein up, as if by a 
reason, a poor intellect robbed of its rational liberty 



.48 POSITIVISM. 



of tracing up intelligent eflfects to an intelligent cause. 
It is M. Comte's deus ex ntachind^ serving him at all 
turns for both origin and cause, though in general he 
is unconscious of seeking either, seemingly taking it 
for granted that whenever he said things were " by 
necessity," by " invariable necessity," by " invincible 
necessity," or were necessary, we should all agree that 
they were either without origin or cause, or of such 
origin or cause as lay beyond the bounds of the 
knowable. 

The great Law of the three States, then, is this, 
that by "invariable necessity," and "by its nature," the 
Formula /'«^^^'' mind in every one of our principal con- 
of the ceptionSy in every branch of our ktiowledgey passes 
'^' successively through three different theoretic 
states. These are : First, the theological or fictitious 
state ; secondly, the metaphysical or abstract state ; 
thirdly, the scientific or positive state. The theologi- 
cal, fictitious state is the " necessary" starting-point 
of the human mind. The metaphysical, abstract state 
is its stage of transition. The scientific, positive state 
is its fixed and final one. In its fictitious state the 
mind studies the nature of things, with their causes 
originating or final. In its transition stage — the 
metaphysical — the mind replaces supernatural agents 
by abstract forces, real entities inherent in different 
things. In its positive, scientific stage the mind 
renounces the search after the origin and destiny of 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 



the universe : renounces the knowledge of the inner 
causes of phenomena, and attaches itself solely to the 
pursuit of their effective laws, that is, of their in- 
variable relations of succession and similitude. 

From these Three States of mind spring three 
methods of philosophy, not only radically opposed to 
one another, but mutually excluding one another. 

Tkrte From the fictitious state springs the philos- 
PkUosophy. ophy which explains phenomena by causes, 
and ultimately by voluntary agents, natural or super- 
natural, whose intervention accounts for events. 
From the transitional state springs the philosophy 
which explains phenomena by assigning to every 
phenomenon a proper entity, of which the operation 
accounts for events. From the positive state of mind 
springs the philosophy which explains phenomena no 
further than by connecting 'particular phenomena 
t(^ether under some general head. The fictitious 
stage culminates at the point where One Being is 
r^rarded as First Cause and universal providence. 
The transition stage culminates in the point where 
a sole entity Nature is viewed as the source of all 
phenomena. The positive stage tends to, but pos- 
sibly may never attain as its point of culmination, 
an ability to regard all observable phenomena as 
particular cases of one general fact. 

Of this last mr.thod and range of explanation a 
natural consequence is that the positive philosophy 



48 POSITIVISM, 



not only renounces the study of the inner nature of 
things, of their causes and their designs, but looks 
upon these as absolutely inaccessible and void of 
meaning for us ; and as to the mysteries of theology, 
they are " of necessity interdicted to human reason." 
This philosophy observes phenomena, and seeks 
for laws ; but seeks for nothing else. Hence it 
commands you not to ask Why ? but only How ? ^ 
The renouncing of explanation is grounded on the 
assumption that all " scientific " explanation consists 
merely in ranking any particular thing under its 
proper class. Considering how innocently Mr. Herbert 
Spencer has accepted this nostrum of Comte, and how 
potent are the narcotics he professes to concoct 
out of its virtues, it is, however superficial in itself, 
not lightly to be passed over. Perhaps it is the 
slightest lath in thinking which two successive heads 
of schools ever judged strong enough to bear the 
strain of a ponderous superstructure. Great adepts in 
petitio principiiy in begging the question, as are both 
Comte and Spencer, even their hardihood might in 
this case have yielded to some little wariness of human 
common sense. Ranking a thing with its class is not 
the explanation of it, as Comte has it , and is not the 
knowledge of it, as Spencer has it. It is an act 



^ The prime statement of these principles, constantly reiterated in 
all Comte*s writings, is found in the first twenty pages of the Philo^ 
sophie Positive, 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 49 



proceeding from knowledge already acquired, and 
designed to keep such knowledge ready at hand for 
future use. That act presupposes and cannot help 
presupposing two items of knowledge, — that of the 
individual thing, and that of the right class under which 
to place it Classing it, the result of this twofold 
knowledge, is, then, the source of itl No ; classing it 
explains nothing, and is rightly done or wrongly 
according as your mind is or is not previously in 
possession of the true explanation. Classing the 
thing is not the acquisition of knowledge either of it 
or of its class ; but it is the putting together of those 
two pieces of knowledge for ready reference. It is 
filing your document on the right file, not reading 
either it or those already on the file. 

Suppose I see a man passing on the road and, 
after examination, say: This is a soldier of the 
eleventh regiment. What does that imply ? It implies 
first, that I have taken knowledge of the man and his 
uniform. This knowledge is new, and it is individual. 
Without previous knowledge ot a more general 
character it would not enable me to classify him. Did 
I not know the difference between a soldier's uniform 
and that of a policeman, to me he might seem to be a 
policeman. Did I not know the difference between the 
uniform ofthe line and the cavalry, to me he might seem 
to be a dragoon. Did I not know the difference between 
the uniform of one regiment of the line and another, 

E 



50 POSITIVISM. 



I might be able to say that he belonged to the line, 
but should not be able to give any more exact classifi- 
cation. By absolute necessity the act of saying he 
belongs to the eleventh presupposes as already exist- 
ing in my mind the explanation of what the man is 
and what the class in which I set him. A philosopher 
who can call classing an object either the explanation 
of it or the knowledge of it, is like the schoolboy 
who takes a syllogism for an instrument of dis- 
covering truths not given in the premises. Just as the 
syllogism is an instrument for educing a truth out of a 
form more or less implicit into one perfectly explicit, 
so classing is an instrument for keeping knowledge, 
which left detached would easily be lost, permanently 
within reach by putting it with its like. It is the class- 
ing of a given thing that springs from the knowledge 
of it and its class, and not the knowledge of it and its 
class that springs from the classing of it. 



V. — Assumptions of the Law of the Three States, 

The fundamental assumptions involved in the law oi 
the Three States are startling. The first is that the 
Three States are universal to human conceptions and 
branches of knowledge. This is simply a meta- 
physical axiom ; and it is not true. Many concep- 
tions and branches of knowledge do not pass in 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 61 



succession through these three states. The second 
fundamental assumption is that the Three States 
are necessary. This also is simply a metaphysical 
axiom, and again, it is not true. Not being universal 
they cannot be necessary. The considerations ad- 
vanced by Comte in support of the necessity and 
universality of the Three States are slender and 
wholly insufficient The third fundamental assump- 
tion is that these Three States are necessarily 
successive. That axiom also is not true. There 
is in a conception no necessity of passing through 
these three successive steps. All the views may 
simultaneously concur towards one comprehensive 
conception. On the other hand, they may never all 
three either succeed one another or co-exist. 

The fourth fundamental assumption, capital to 
Positivism, is that the stage in which the study of 
causes, of design, and of the nature of things is 
renounced, in which that of the existence of God 
or a future life is interdicted, in which the question 
Why is inhibited, and only the question How 
is licensed, in which research is curtailed to the 
ascertainment of laws only, is the mature and con- 
summating stage of human development. This 
metaphysical axiom is untrue from first to last; is 
the antipodes of our human knowledge, derived 
from observation, inference, or intuition. 

It is logical that a race without a God should be 

b2 



52 POSITIVISM, 



a race without a Why ; but a race without a Why 

A Race ^^^^ ^^^ ^ ^^ human race ; must be one 
without much lower down in the scale of mind. 
a Vhy, 'YYiQ state of mind in which men do not 
enquire into the nature of things, is one in which 
they do not even ask, What is it ? and that fact you 
no whit alter by calling the nature of a thing its " inner 
nature." The state of mind in which men do not 
inquire into the causes of things is one in which they 
do not ask. What did it ? or, Who did it ? The state 
in which they do not inquire into the design of things 
is one in which they do not ask. What for ? and any 
state of a human being in which he does not ask 
What is it ? What or Who did it ? and, What for ? 
is one of the lowest flats of savagery, or else a state 
of approximate inanity. It cannot be proved that 
in a sane man such a state of mind ever existed ; all 
we know seems to say that in such an one it could 
not exist ; but if it could, then it would not be a fixed 
state or a final one, but must lead downward towards 
imbecility.' Mr. Harrison resents a mild hint of 
Mr. Spencer's about men thinking in grooves, and 

One of the most recent German explorers in the Basin of the 
Congo* Lieutenant Wissman, speaking of the mental superiority of the 
Tusclvlange over other negro nations, says : ** The best token of this 
superiority is the question, Why ? with which one b here so often con- 
fronted, a question which elsewhere seems to lie beyond the negro." — 
.^fitt/iei/un^en der Afrikanischen GeseUschaft in Deutschland. Band 4 
HeA I. s. 41. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 63 



says that is what all systematic thinkers do. But 
when a system begins by cutting off from intellect the 
organs of its noblest powers, of those powers in the 
use of which our progress has been made, men who 
profess to submit their intellect to the knife need not 
say much about systematic thinking. Most of the 
good thinking they will do will be in spite of their 
systenL 

The fixed state, the final state of man, one 
Comiis that renounces investigation of the nature 
a KetfvmiU °^ ^^^"gs, and inquiry into causes and de- 
One. signs ! It is only in his lowest state that 
man approaches to this fanciful condition. In pro- 
portion as intellect freely plays does it refuse to rest 
in mere appearances, and resolve to learn the nature 
of a thing. Heat, to be sure, is what warms, melts, 
or inflames, as the case may be. But it is the higher 
man, and not the lower, who asks, What is it ? an 
emanation, like odour, or an undulation, like sound ? 
a flux of matter, or a mode of motion? So with 
every chemical analysis, so with every lawyer's study 
of his case ; so with every critic's peering into a new 
poem, argument, or history. These men are searching 
into the nature of things. " Inner nature " ! Well when 
we have learned that the outer nature of a tiger is 
hairy, we are disposed to learn also whether his inner 
nature is or is not ferocious. When we have learned 
that the outer nature of a metal is yellow, we like to 



54 ' POSITIVISM, 



know whether its inner nature is gold or aluminium 
bronze. When we have learned that the outer nature 
of a man's words is agreeable, we like to know 
whether the inner nature of them is true. As to 
" things in themselves/' Dinge au sick and such other 
fringes, whether put on by Kant or Hamilton, they 
make no more difference to the nature of things, than 
does Comte's own intitne. 

The nature of a thing is something without which 
no thing exists, something that is various, according 
as the properties of the thing are complex, that has 
different manifestations, according to those varying 
properties, and that becomes known to us just in so 
far as those manifestations come under our observa- 
tion. It is a something that never shows itself, except 
when all those properties are united in the normal 
state ; something which disappears when any property 
is withdrawn, or when the normal state is changed. 
Few things in physics are more striking than is the 
vast change which may be made in the nature of a 
body by a slight withdrawal from it of some con- 
stituent or addition to it of another. More of the 
nature of a given thing we cannot know than its 
manifestations reveal, or than sound inferences from 
them warrant. But if by calling manifestations of 
things, that is phenomena, mere shows — ^we mean 
that they are shows, not of anything, shows without 
a thing shown, unreal shows — then, do we play off 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 66 



upon ourselves a childish fallacy, and no pretensions 
of heaven-high philosophy will save us from the 
consequences. Appearances are not " mere shows." 
They are shows of something to someone. On the 
other hand they are appearances and not the things 
that make the appearances. In calling things pheno- 
mena Comte only follows the flock ; but a more 
misleading habit flock never was silly enough to 
follow. 

Perhaps the assumption which has the greatest 
practical effect upon thinking and reasoning is that 
science shows all things to be governed by laws, 
without any intelligent being, instead of being 
governed according to laws by an Intelligent Being 
who set things their laws. This science does not 
show. The assumption that it does show it is hardy, 
but utterly unscrupulous. Science shows that in- 
organic nature is governed according to fixed rules, 
involving proportion, order in time and space, and 
adjustment of complex relations. Science of mind, 
if purely historic, shows that such a fixing of rules for 
inorgranic bodies, and their conduct, involves mind 
and design ; since it never arises without these. 
Science farther shows that the fixed properties of 
inorganic agents, and the processes which result so 
long as they are left to themselves, become liable to 
indefinite changes as soon as intelligent agents enter 
on the scene. Science shows that the weakest in- 



6b POSITIVISM. 

telligent agent can change properties and processes, 
within a certain range, and that one of highly advanced 
intelligence can do so on a scale incalculably tran- 
scending that of the weakest one. Science shows 
that what are called laws of nature, are miscalled, 
being not laws in the clear sense of a precept capable 
of being obeyed or disobeyed, but being rules of 
procedure, or of proportion, absolutely inviolable. 
Science shows that these rules of procedure and 
proportion become known to mind in studying the 
properties of matter, and thenceforth are turned into 
instruments of mind for guiding the processes of 
matter, and within limits for calling into existence 
new properties or neutralizing old ones. 

Science is far from showing that the terminal point 
of governing power in nature is found, in so-called laws, 
which instead of being capable of being defined as laws 
by even Comte himself, are at once diluted into "in- 
variable relations of succession and similitude." Science 
shows that successions and similitudes are not laws, 
but results of forces working according to rules. It 
shows that mind, once cognisant of these forces, can 
change the current of successions, can turn similitude 
into difference, and difference into similitude, by 
knowledge of properties, and of their rules cf operation. 
It shows that the extent of this power of altering 
successions and similitudes depends on range of 
intellect, amount of knowledge, and force of will. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 



Science thus sets us down before intelligence and will 
as the terminal points of demonstrated control over 
visible phenomena. If, with Comte, we refuse to go 
up to the terminal point, in hope of escaping from 
the action of Will and of Intelligent Agents, science 
shows these coming in at every step. Science itself 
is one grand procession of finite intelligent agents, 
amid unintelligent agents and forces, advancing from 
height to height, and from void to void, across bodies, 
across interspaces, the finite intelligence constantly 
gaining fresh dominion over finite properties, forces, 
relations, and as constantly feeling itself called 
forwards and upwards towards infinite relations and a 
career without limit 
Of all the fundamental assumptions, the one 
Assumed which at my first reading of Comte, now 

Knowledge ^ , 

^^^ very many years ago, most amazed me — 
Unknewabie, not SO much because he made it, for all 
one heard in Paris prepared one for anything, but 
because Englishmen of repute as thinkers, gave it 
currency, with some implied sanction of their names — 
is still the one that most perplexes me, not at all as 
to Comte's faculty of assuming, but as to the extent ot 
human "receptivity," whenever I read things which 
imply that sober men let it pass. It is an assumption 
to which Mr. Harrison might fairly call the attention 
of Mr. Spencer. And here, I shall take the liberty of 
substituting for a vaguely rhetorical word of Comtej 



58 POSITIVISM, 

one of Mr. Spencer's, the meaning of which one can 
fix. What Comte calls " inaccessible/' Mr. Spencer 
calls '* unknowable." The whole law, then, of Comte, 
the whole operation of humanity in its mature stage, 
depends on what ? on three things : first, a knowledge 
of the boundary-line dividing between the knowable 
and unknowable ; secondly, on M. Comte's personal 
power to fix that line at the true point ; and in the 
third place, on his being in a position to make asser- 
tions respecting things on both sides of it, the far side 
as well as the near. 

This monstrous triple assumption ot Knowledge 

under the guise of non- Knowledge is the cornerstone 

of the positive philosophy. Without this 

A Triple , r ^ i iT»i 

Assumption assumption not one of Comte s Three 
of Unreal States could be formulated. He knows 

Knowledge. 

just where to draw the line, yea, to fix 
it for ever ; otherwise he could not rule that causes, 
natures, and designs are on yonder side of it, and 
laws only on this one ; could not forbid the search 
after the one as hopelessly barren, and sanction 
that of the other as fruitful ; least of all could he 
forbid the questions which might hereafter revive a 
search for a First Cause. He knows what does or 
does not exist deeper in than the bounds of the 
knowable, else he could not say that the inner nature, 
essence, entity, or whatever else you may call it, is 
only a modification of a fiction. He knows what 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 69 

does and what does not exist higher up than the 
bounds of the knowable, else he could not pronounce 
that God is a iiction — as positive an affirmation as 
can be made. 

It is up and down the realm marked off by himself 
as beyond the bounds of the knowable, that Comte 
rambles, pronouncing this thing chimerical, that 
fictitious, the next thing a fabrication, another unreal, 
and so forth. These positive assertions as to souls of 
men, angels, gods, God, are made not once, not a 
hundred times, but many hundreds ; are made not 
hypothetically, or with an air of respect for the 
intellects of people less well informed on matters 
within the shadow of the unknowable ; but are made 
dogmatically, dictatorially, always with an air of 
perfect information, sometimes as if with a snort of 
contempt Whence, then, this authentic knowledge 
of the territory called inaccessible? Whence this 
distinct prospect all over the range of the invisible ? 
Whence this precision and certitude as to the non- 
existence of whales in seas into which no one can, 
by hypothesis, ever sail ? Extract these affirmations, 
with the inferences founded upon them, out of the 
thousands of pages of Comte, and the whole house 
he built will fall into shapeless materials, like 
any house from which you withdraw foundations 

and cement 

Mr. Geoi^e H. Lewes has a passage describing 



60 POSITIVISM, 

the positive philosopher as objecting to your calling 
life a spirit, as if you knew ; objecting also to your 
making assumptions and dogmas touching that spirit, 
€is if you knew. Never, however, did he object to 
Comte ranging over the universe of the inaccessible, 
affirming and denying not only as if he knew, but 
as if that remote part of the ocean around us, 
was the one on which, while others knew nothing, 
he could speak with the authority of an admiralty 
survey and charts ; could speak as entitled to call 
any idea of land in this direction a delusion, of 
rocks in that direction a fantasy, or of whales in a 
certain quarter a chimera. An author of Catholicism, 
!>., Christianity, was real, St. Paul ; a founder of 

Comtis ^^"^^ ^^s ^^^y — Numa ; an inventor of 
Realities and the balloon was real and one of the 

Unrealities, j^^^.^^ ^f ^j^^^^ ^^^ j f^^.^^^ j^j^ ^^^^ . 

predecessors in philosophy of M. Comte himself were 
real, such as Aristotle, Bacon, and some others ; but 
an Author and builder of the universe, a Predecessor 
of all finite minds and modes of thought was, he 
asserted, a fictitious being, as if lu knew. Human 
providence was actual, the moral providence of 
woman, the intellectual providence of the priest, 
the material providence of the temporal chief, 
the general providence of the working class ; but 
divine providence, universal providence, surveying 
at once morals, intellect, and bodily need, conversant 



THE PHILOSOPHY Oh COMTE. 61 



at once with eye, light and sun, with breast, air 
and heat, with hunger/ crops and weather, with 
sensation, medium and object ; any such providence 
Mras, he asserted, a chimera, as if he knew. The 
subjective life of his own imagining was real — that 
life which the living confer upon the dead when 
they form of them in their own minds pictures, and 
offer to them " worship," this was not only real, but 
tke real life ; whereas the life of the soul after death, 
its own life conscious and intelligent, was, he assumed 
and asserted, only imaginary, as if he knew. 

VI. — T/u Three supposed Philosophies do not 
necessarily exclude one another. 

The final assumption is as untrue as the rest. It 
is that the three methods of philosophy, which spring 
out of the Three States, mutually exclude one 
another. Let us recall those three methods. The 
first explains the Universe by the pre-existence of a 
Creator and Ruler; the second explains phenomena 
by essences, entities, or nature inherent in things 
the third explains phenomena only by laws, and by 
grouping laws, — less general ones under those more 
so. These three methods of explanation do not 
exclude one another ; on the contrar}', the highest 
includes the other two. The lowest would exclude 
the other two were it possible to put the human 
mind into the cage, and disable it from seeking for 



62 POSITIVISM, 



nature, essence, cause, design, origin or originating 
will ; but into any such confinement no mind can be 
crushed, not that of the inventor of the cage. 

History is there, in spite of attempts to "law" it 
out of living movement, into mere mouldy. As a 
matter of history, then, has the highest mode of 
explaining the universe excluded the other two? 
Moses Moses explained the origin of things 
Metaphysical finite by the pre-existence of a Being 
as well as capable of giving to them both begin - 
Theological, ning and end. Did he say that when 
originated they were left by their Creator without 
each thing receiving a nature of its own, by which 
it should be distinguished from things of any other 
nature? Precisely the contrary. To each was as- 
signed its purpose, and to each was given a nature 
adapted to the fulfilment of such purpose. If, there- 
fore, Moses had explained the fact that this plant 
bore figs while that other bore haws, by the fact that 
the one possessed the nature of a fig tree and the 
other the nature of a thorn, would he, as a matter 
of fact, exclude the explanation that the ultimate 
cause of their respective natures — of " their kind " — 
lay in the Creator's will ? Yet further : If Moses 
asserted that the sun had a Creator, that he had also 
a design, to give light, with a nature adapted to that 
design, did he assume that he had no law, that he 
was to rule without measure, number or limit ; that 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 63 

he, co-operating with moon and earth, was to give us 
seasons, days and years, with a constant clashing of 
"caprices"? or did he assume a reign of law, fixed 
and invariable, so long as the Almighty willed its con- 
tinuance ? I do not say that M. Comte knew, but 
I do say that any Englishman of moderate intelli- 
gence ought to know the facts touching this point in 
the history of human thought. Those facts once 
called to mind, the Law of the Three States goes 
to pieces against the first serious example of a 
cosmogony. 

A single exception to the three successive stages 
in any conception, in any branch of knowledge, 
would suffice to disprove their invariable neces- 
sity from the nature of the mind. But the difficulty 
would be to find any case on record where the nature 
of the mind had permitted it to pass spontaneously 
in succession through the three stages in Comte s 
order. How the second State is more metaphysical 
than the first, which assigns to things both an author 
and a nature, one cannot see. How the third is not 
metaphysical at all, seeing that it abstracts from 
things only their phenomena and laws, and confines 
observation to these, again one cannot see. But that 
the co-existence of the three states in the same mind 
is the normal condition of all who are happy enough 
to believe in God, is a fact so palpable on the face 
of history and literature, that to ignore it requires 



64 POSITIVISM. 



audacious ignorance, ignorance even of the ignorance 
itself. 

Comte fancies that we are all " theologists " in 
childhood, metaphysicians in youth, and Positivists in 
maturity. When I come to believe that things are 
ruled by their own modes of procedure only, which is 
what being ruled by " laws '* comes to, and not by a 
Creator, through a nature various and with varying 
rules, I shall believe myself gone far back toward 
childhood. The truth manifestly is that the doctrine 
of creation implies both nature and law, as surely as it 
presupposes a Creator. The Creator who wills a thing 
to be must will it to be something, that is to be of 
some kind, that is to have a nature distinctively its 
own, which you may call entity, essence, quintessence, 
inner nature, ultimate nature, proximate principle, or 
by any name you think fit. Willing one kind to be 
this and another that, involves willing that one should 
act thus and another in a different way, that is, that 
each thing according to its nature shall have its fixed 
modes of operation. Creation implies both distinctive 
natures and laws ; and no explanation which did not 
include all three would accord with the doctrine that 
all things were made and fitted to common ends. 

Does any Comtist suppose that when Newton had 
Newton discovered the law of gravitation he thereby 

^an^^ became less interested in the nature of that 
Positive, property of matter by which every particle 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 66 

tends towards every other particle ? The researches of 
Boscovich, Le Sage, and others prove that at all events 
the human mind did not Does anyone suppose that 
Newton then became less disposed to ascribe both 
the property and the law to the will of a Creator ? 
If not, the conception of law does not exclude that 
of an intelligent cause, does not even "interdict" 
the search for one, except to hearts stimulated by 
atheistic antipathies, or intellects reined in by Comtist 
bit and bridle. What Newton had discovered was 
simply a rule of proportion employed in procedure. 
According to human means of knowing, and human 
processes of thought, such a rule seemed clearly to 
presuppose knowledge of matter, of space, of time and 
also of motion, combined with a design to harmonize 
the motions of different pieces of matter, whether near 
to one another or far distant ; and with power to do 
so. This in its turn seemed to presuppose a Creator. 
To say that the adjustment conspicuous in the law 
does not presuppose planning and discerning, and 
that these do not presuppose a Being capable of dis- 
cerning, planning, and adjusting on the requisite 
scale, is to set at naught the experience of man,, 
and to rob human reason of its validity. The 
law of gravitation being ascertained, the problem 
of the nature of it became not less interesting than 
before, but more so : the question of its origin re- 
mained as before, only with a clearer light on the 

F 



66 POSITIVISM. 



road leading up to God. Should any one prove that 
gravitation was due to the impact of corpuscles, such 
additional light upon its nature would not alter the 
question of its law ; no more would it stay further 
study of laws : for new ones would then come to be 
investigated, as the discovery of a cause always 
stimulates the search into its laws, that is, into the 
rules employed in its procedure. 

How necessary to the a priori assumptions ol 
Comte is the idea of the mutual exclusion of the 
different systems may be gathered from one example 
among many. Confessing that in animated nature 
(in Biology, as he calls it, for to him the science and 
not the things known is habitually the real thing) we 
cannot predict events, as in inorganic, he draws from 
this his all-important conclusion of " without God." 
We can modify events here when we cannot predict 
them. Hence is it "shown unquestionably that the 
diverse events of the real world are not ruled by 
supernatural will, but by natural laws."* Shown 
unquestionably ! Might they not be ruled by 
both? His proof that they are not ruled by 
laws and supernatural will, is that they are 
in part ruled by natural will and natural laws. To 
me it is hence " shown unquestionably," that, 
as natural will can rul^ events, through natural 
laws, so can supernatural will rule them now 

* Phil. Pas. IIL^ 454. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 67 

according to natural laws, now, if that be better, 
by higher law. 

In the fact that in living bodies we can at will 
"disturb phenomena, suspend them, even destroy 
them," he sees a reason for *' repelling every idea of a 
theologic direction,"' i^.^ of their being directed by 
God. He is so eager to exclude any idea of a divine 
will above physical laws, where facts force him to 
admit a human one, that he totally forgets, that it is 
not with animated nature, or even with organic nature, 
that begins our power of " disturbing phenomena." 
If it did not begin till then, the evidence would not 
be lessened that will and law are not mutually exclu- 
sive. But it does begin earlier. We can less modify 
phenomena in a bee without destroying it than 
in a stone. We can modify gases, and yet restore 
them in a degree immensely greater than we can any 
living things. Our power to predict the course of any 
physical agent wholly depends on whether or not it 
comes under animal or vegetable control. Free from 
that control its evolution can be reckoned upon* 
but not under it, except in a very small degree. We 
do know that no intelligent agent, however skilled, 
can do with it anything that violates one physical 
law. But we also know that the practical result of 
this restriction becomes elastic in proportion as skill 
increases, and at last so elastic, that what is possible 

^ PhU. Pos. IIL, 457. 

F 2 



68 POSITIVISM. 



and what is not possible is a matter on which we are 
slow to pronounce in proportion as we are well 
informed. 

VI I. — Sciences Excluded from View. 

Professing to ground philosophy altogether on the 
sciences of observation, Comte, as we have seen, does 
in fact lay at the foundation of all science his own 
metaphysical dogma touching psychological processes. 
Psychology itself, however, he rules out of the list of 
sciences; and that on the ground, above all things, 
that the mind cannot observe itself, cannot 

No 

Psychology Stay itself to see itself at work. "The 
or Mental human mind," so runs his axiom, as luck- 
less as the rest, ** can directly observe all 
phenomena except its own."' This, he says, is by 
an "invincible necessity." Miss Martineau omits that 
part of if This child of his fancy pitilessly chastises 
its parent when he comes to set himself in his 
chamber of the soul, there forming images of the 
dead, watching the lines, correcting the touches 
and finally worshipping the completed sketches. Not 
only does he make his psychological dogmas the 
groundwork of his natural science, but such of the 
sciences as he acknowledges are so manipulated as 
continually to reflect in the facets of his prism the 

* Phil. Pas. I. 34. ^ Vol, I., p. II. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 69 

colours predetermined by the "law." Among the 
sciences scored out are geology and organic chemistry. 
The one substituted for mental science is phrenology ; 
not that he professes that we can see the brain at 
work, any more than he recognizes the fact that the 
one thing we do constantly see at work is our own 
mindy while a thing we never can see at work is 
brain, our views of it being confined to the dead brain 
of other people. But for him the way to study the 
mind is to observe the brain, and the way to observe 
brain is to feel the bumps on the cranium. Hence, 
while asserting that the mind cannot divide itself to 
see itself reason, because there is only one "organ,'' 
he goes on to say that we can understand how a man can 
observe the working of his own passions, because the 
" organs " in which the passions have their seat are 
distinct from those of observation. The passion, how- 
ever, cannot be a strong one, for such is incompatible 
with the act of observation ! ^ Now this Mr. Harrison, I 
suppose, takes not for a muddle of metaphysics, but 
for science and philosophy. By the way, even Mr. 
Harrison would sometimes seem to adopt the strange 
view of metaphysics which is perpetually recurring in 
Comte. To him metaphysics are the accounting for 
phenomena by entities. Mr. Mill gently says that he 
uses the word for anything he does not like. He uses 
it absurdly ; and if he did not like metaphysics, he 

* Phi'/. Pos. I. 36. 



70 POSITIVISM. 



wrote them as diligently as most nien, but in general 
very poor metaphysics ; with, however, occasionally a 
very fine stroke. 

One of the few points in which Comte is intel- 
lectually consistent — the consistency of his aim and 
pursuit is high to the last degree — is this, that he 
makes no attempt to unify nature or the universe. 
He limits himself to unifying science. Such portion 
of the universe as may lie beyond the solar system, 
he treats in somewhat the same spirit as a Parisian 
treats the provinces. Even in the solar system he 
thinks study is chiefly to be confined to the "five 
planets." That portion of nature which he really 
admits to sit to him he unifies first ob- 
A ' ^^d\ J^ctively, by classing it all into two sections, 
be either inorganic and organic, both of which in- 
Organtc gyitably unite in one, that is, in body. 

or Inorganic. 

This division assumes that body is all 

things, and that all things are bodies. It also 

assumes that things and phenomena are one and the 

same ; according to this, light considered merely as 

an undulation of ether is a " phenomenon," not merely 

a thing or a process, while light making manifest to 

y-, an eye things and processes is no more 

Phenomenon than a phenomenon. The fact being that 

confounded ^^ ^^^ hundred and ninety million of miles 

with the r X r . , 

Thing of its way from home to foreign shores sun- 
Uppearing, light is no phenomenon at all, not appearing 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 71 

to any one. Yet it is then a real thing and a right 
glorious process, glorious to the eye that sees the end, 
although there in the eyeless waste of emptiness, it 
moves and moves a dark traveller through a dark 
field. Only down here in our lower air does it become 
visual, only inside of these small eyes of ours and of 
our humble fellow creatures, does it turn from a thing 
moving in a darkness that comprehends it not, to a 
light lightening every man that cometh into the 

world. 

VIII. — Not Technically a Materialist, 

It would be hard to call Comte a materialist, for he 
spurns the name in a different spirit from his rejection 
of that of atheist. Apparently he would have a real 
contempt for the intellect of any one who could call 
atoms the source of potencies and life. That, how- 
ever, is, perhaps, more connected with his dread of 
looking too far up in the direction of the beginning 
than with anything else. He cunningly sees the pro- 
digious advantage of treating of mind and matter on 
one and the same principle, without the trouble of 
proving that they are one and the same thing. Just 
as the question is begged respecting the existence of 
supernatural beings, so also is the question begged 
respecting the essentially different nature of matter 
and mind. He takes the advantage of being without 



72 POSITIVISM. 



God, and refusing to call himself an Atheist ; and the 
advant^e of assuming that all things are bodies, 
either organic or inorganic, without confessing to 
himself that either we must take mind as the product 
of matter, or matter as the product of mind. 

This advantage as a controversialist, which is what 
Comte above all things is, even when most covertly, is 
dearly paid for. It produces a style of reasoning in 
which things are mercilessly mixed up which in 
nature are kept far asunder. If you will insist on 
treating land and water as proximate substances, no 
doubt you may, for proximate they are. But if you 
reason of water as of land, and of land as of water, 
the result will be in reasoning, what it would be in 
physics, if you mingled the two, — mud. You apply 
to mind the laws of matter, and to matter the notions 
of mind; and while at the moment you seem to 
produce brilliant effects, when your work settles down 
it is — mud. Comte in this respect is not so bad as some 
of the dissecting-room school of metaphysicians among 
ourselves, whose freaks surpass all description. 

He is no evolutionist He rejected the solutions of 
Lamarck, the forerunner of Darwin. As to the relations 
of matter and mind, I do not remember anything in 
his writings implying that he could fancy he had 
explained them by an analogy like that of the con- 
cave and convex in the same form ; though such a 
fancy would not be foreign to his mental habits when 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 73 



in his more mystical states. He could well take 
analogy for identity. Archbishop Thompson speaks 
of Comte as an exaggerated Nominalist^ But who 
else ever pushed Realism to the extent of making an 
abstract general term into the true object of worship ? 
Practically he unifies all knowledge into that of 
bodies, and assumes that bodies are the only objects of 
knowledge. But his higher unification has to be effected 
through mind and mental processes. Mathematics he 

I 

makes the universal science which guides the march 
of every other science. How far it is a science of the 
knower, of the processes of mind in dealing with 
magnitudes, before it becomes a science of things 
known, he partly sees and generally forgets. By 
what processes the mind proceeds to measure such 
Mathematics magnitudes as eye sees not, to calculate 
of Mental ^^^ numbers as eye again sees not ; and 
Processes, SO to acquire the power of mapping out 
in detail fields of nature which otherwise it could only 
unify in indistinct mass or total ; this is what mathe- 
matics teach with patient care and giant result What 
Comte principally, not exclusively, sees, is the appli- 
cation of those recognized and regulated processes of 
mind to questions of magnitudes. To him, measuring 
the celestial distances is measuring " indirectly," which 
put into a definite shape means, by mental processes 
where no physical measures can be applied ; by pro- 



1 <i 



Lawn of Thought," p. 119. 



74 POSITIVISM. 

cesses which, taking some small given dimension as 
a basis, proceed outwards toward infinity ; processes 
which declare that for the human mind earth is not 
the orbit or the limit, but only the/^« jA?,.the prop 
on which to rest its lever. 

In his earlier days he sees, in part at least, that mathe- 
identifUs matics are an extension of logic. In his 

Logic (utd 

Mathemcuics, l^^er he identifies the two. The process was 
with him, as with most rabid generalizers, an easy one. 
Mathematics were logic, applied to questions of ex- 
tension and number. Therefore, logic was nothing but 
mathematics. Prosody is grammar ; and the most 
precise part of grammar, — its only rigidly measurable 
part : ergo grammar is prosody. But laying this 
subjective foundation for the unity of science, he 
refuses any place to the antecedent processes or at- 
tributes of mind, — to all those attributes by virtue of 
which it seeks to know, and reasons its way to know- 
ledge, to all its processes in such reasoning and 
ascertaining of the truth till it comes to a certain class 
of truths where probabilities end and strict measure and 
number alone are of account. His reason for includ- 
ing mathematics, and giving it the first place, is, that 
physical laws presuppose logical laws. The knowledge 
of the one certainly does presuppose the knowledge 
of the other. But how as to the instituting of them 
I use the word " instituting " in the natural sense, that 
of setting up the law, not in Comte's loose sense — 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COAfTE, 76 



that c^ discovering it, and expressing it in form. He 
would have been the last to admit that what are 
called physical laws presupposed a mind knowing 
proportion and sequence, and able to impress upon 
bodies rules by which these should be observed. But 
just as surely as do harmonized motions presuppose 
proportion and sequence, so surely do proportion and 
sequence presuppose mind capable of comparison, 
judgment, and prevision. 

IX. — His Classification of the Sciences. 

All nature, then, being put into the two grooves of 
inorganic and organic, our studies are to run on 
those lines. He thinks it of vast importance to fix 
the place of each Science on a graduated scale ; its 
rank in the hierachy. Each science is to take rank, 
then, prior to any others whose phenomena depend 
upon and presuppose its phenomena. This being so 
we expect to begin with chemistry ; but no, with 
astronomy. It alone, says Comte, exhibits only mathe- 
matical phenomena. That was not his point. That 
science was to rank first whose phenomena were 
presupposed by the next, not that whose phenomena 
were only mathematical; which, I suppose, means, 
could only be measured and counted. This is not 
correct even of the heavenly bodies, seeing that their 
heat can be felt, their light seen, their figures traced 
by the eye. In spite of this, he affirms that their 



76 POSITIVISM, 



phenomena are purely mathematical. The true 
reason why he began with Astronomy was not what 
he supposes ; but the natural one that the earth and 
all its works manifestly depend on the heavens. 
Instead of beginning to study bodies in their atoms, 
molecules and masses, which certainly are presupposed 
in their figure and motions, he begins where he can 
study only figure and motion, and eventually mass. 
Thence he comes to Terrestrial Physics ; thence to 
Chemistry; next to Biology or Science of Organic 
bodies, including Physiology and Sociology. 

His scheme is this : — 

Crude Bodies : Organic Bodies : 

Astronomy. Physiology. 

Physics. Social Physics. 

Chemistry. 

These five sciences comprehend the circle of all 
knowledge ; presupposing, however, and presupposing 
nothing else ; mathematics ; consisting of geometry, 
the calculus, and rational mechanics. They com- 
prehend all objects of knowledge, in spite of his oft 
reiterated assertion that man is the principal theme 
of our study ; and in spite of his preliminary principle 
that ideas govern and overturn the world, which he 
explains as meaning in other words that in the last 
resort all the social mechanism rests upon opinion.' 

1 Pos, Phil, /., 48. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 77 



In this classification his principle of succession 
according to the dependence of the phenomena on 
those of the sciences preceding is violated at least in 
two cases. One I have aleady noted. The other is 
physics and chemistry : the forces and motions of 
bodies in mass clearly depend on their atoms, mole- 
cules, and affinities, and presuppose them all, whereas 
these do not presuppose motion in mass. 

Carefully guarding himself against being lowered 
to the rank of the scientists, for whose specialistic 
narrowness he never had contempt too strong, and 
ostentatiously setting himself forth as a philosopher 
only, dealing with the abstract sides and relations of 
all science, one would have expected him to avoid 
expositions of particular branches of science, and to 
take physical facts from their confessed professors, 
and accredited expositors. He chooses to make large 
expositions of his own. The specialists have not set 
any seal of general approval upon these treatises ; 
but they were as necessary to fit all things to his 
Three States, as are those of Mr. Spencer to fit 
all things to his doctrine of the persistence and 
equivalence of force. 

It was mortifying beyond patience that his sixth 
volume of the Philosophic Positive appeared with a 
note, — inserted most impudently by his publisher, — 
from Arago, his official superior, speaking of him 
even in his own branch of knowledge, that by teaching 



78 POSITIVISM. 



which he lived, mathematics, with overt contempt. 
He had written a querulous, offensive preface attacking 
many, and Arago in particular. The publisher wanted 
not to bring out the book ; but yielded to Arago and 
did it. Yet preceding the preface he set Arago's 
curt statement that the ill-humour of Comte was due 
to the appointment of another to a chair he coveted. 
In Comte he says : " I did not recognize any mathe- 
matical title to the post, either great or small." A 
chair was the ambition of his life ; and he once 
thought that he had made a favourable impression on 
Guizot. But the chair never came, and Guizot was 
added to the list of spiteful metaphysicians. He 
punished the publisher for his insolence. 

X, — Organic and Inorganic, 

True to the principle of studying only bodies, 
when he approaches life, animal and vegetable, it is 
His Defini- defined as consisting in " absorption and 
Hon of Life, exhalation,'* the very attributes of a gutter. 
Miss Martineau, gently, intimates that it would be 
well to insert " assimilation " ; forgetting that our 
mode of using that word, shows that already we have 
read into it the idea of life, presupposing our know- 
ledge of it. The gutter, in its way, assimilates matter, 
as well as does, in its way, the water-wagtail. But the 
one pulls pure water and dry clay down to mud, 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 79 



while the life that is in the other lifts up matter and 
transforms it into living blood, flesh, bone and feather. 
He has many incidental definitions of life. And the 
nature of it is often under his notice, in spite of all 
laws to the contrary. 

Another of his definitions of the living organism 
is : " Unity and coherence in space, progressive change 
in time." This he innocently says is "almost the 
whole matter." Such is the effect of defining by the 
lowest part or parts. Unity and coherence in space, 
with progressive change in time, will fit well upon the 
face of any cliff, upon any rock you can find along the 
sea shore, upon any stream or railway train. Absurd 
as it would be to define compounds by the highest 
constituent alone, it is immeasurably more absurd to 
define them by the lowest. A living creature defined 
by speaking of unity and cohesion in space and pro- 
gressive change in time ! that is farewell to accuracy 
and careful thought. Life defined by speaking of 
absorption and exhalation ! that is muddle below 
notice. It is equalled only by the depths to which 
among ourselves followers, who are not disciples, fall 
when they sink from one vagueness to another till, 
anything with a tangible idea becoming dangerous for 
their theories, life or mind, or even thinking, may be 
described as organisation of changes, then as changes, 
then as motions, then as states, and if there be any- 
thing more vague, more unmeaning than states, that 



80 POSITIVISM, 



are not states of some one thing in particular, that 
doubtless will be resorted to. 

As life is only a property of organized bodies, 
so mind is only a property of a more complex or- 
ganization, and human mind only a property of the 
most complex body of all. This property of this 
peculiar body is best studied in society, and society 
moves under the control of nature, and nature under 
" invariable laws," which means inviolable rules ; 
for although physical, mental and moral laws differ 
in respect of sphere and detail, they all belong to 
the one " invariable " order. The law of the Three 
States is made to guide all human history, as firmly 
as does the turning of the needle to the pole guide 
the navigator. Wherever a danger arises of admitting 
into view true laws, commands which may be violated 
or obeyed, but which cannot be annulled or even 
altered, it is evaded by the ever-present explana- 
tion, " by necessity," or some kindred metaphysical 
expedient 

The principle of dividing objects of knowledge 
into inorganic and organic vitiates all study higher 
up than anatomy. For the special purpose of the 
chemist who seeks to know properties of bodies the 
classification is right For the philosopher who seeks 
to know whatsoever goes to constitute the universe 
whether body or not body, it is wholly insufficient and 
misleading. M. Comte tells me much about " neces- 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 81 



sity." Is it organic or inorganic ? He tells me about 
the " nature " of my mind. Is a nature organic or in- 
oi^anic ? He often speaks of " proportions." Is pro- 
portion organic or inorganic ? " Prevision " is one of 
his prime delights. Is it organic or inorganic ? " Re- 
lation " is constantly on his lips. Is relation organic 
or inoi^anic ? " Succession " and " similitude " are of 
his comer stones. Are they organic or inorganic? 
Without " law " his system could not rise an inch 
above the ground. Is law organic or inorganic? 
None of his sciences can dispense with Space or 
Time : are they organic or inorganic ? 

To study even the physical universe on the assump- 
B^y not the tion that you are studying only body is 
Universe, manifestly untrue to nature ; not less so 
than if a man set out to study the navy on the 
assumption that he was to study only vessels. Doing 
this he would divide his subject into wooden vessels 
and iron ones. But motive power is neither, no more 
are sailors, nor yet discipline, order, rank, exercise, 
courage, science, art of navigation, and other consti- 
tuents, without which all wood and iron would no 
more make up a navy than would organic and in- 
organic make up a universe without constituents as 
high above them as they are above nothing. The 
method of taking only the lowest terms of the prob- 
lem requires a problem whose terms are homogeneous. 
The lowest terms of the problem man, horse and gig„ 



B2 POSITIVJSM, 



are gig and harness. You can never solve your prob- 
lem by them ; and you strangely belittle your own 
processes of thought when, first having excluded the 
animal life of the horse, and the free agency of the 
man, you proceed to enunciate a series of big-worded 
explanations. 

You could not explain all by the mind and body of 
the man ; nor yet by the mind and body of the horse ; 
but when you come to the gig and harness alone, how 
miich will they explain ? Not motion, not speed, not 
guidance. If you see the horse sprawling and the 
man also, you may explain that by the gig : it has 
broken down. But if you see horse, gig, and man, 
as if one body moved by one soul and will, winding 
amid vehicles, round corners, shunning what is to be 
shunned, and nearing what is to be neared, you have 
to explain the movements of the gig by those of the 
horse, and those of the horse by the will of the man. 
False to nature you may be ; but nature will find you 
out ; and of all forms of easily detected untruth few 
are less likely to escape in the long run than the folly 
of defining things by their lowest constituent The 
marvel is how far it has been allowed to go ; but that 
is a preparation for the cure, seeing the absurdities 
to which it leads. 

Of course when you want a definition of a genus which 
will not exclude any of its species, you are compelled 
to take the lowest species. But a poor schoolboy is 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 88 

- 

he who takes the type that excludes everything which 
characterizes any species or individual except the 
lowest as the type of all the species and individuals. 

The law of Parsimony is right. Never resort to a 
higher agency to explain what is really explained by 
a lower. But side by side with this runs the Law 
of Adequacy.- Never fancy that you e^tplain a whole 
by what explains only its lowest part 

Where you have body and life in one you will 
never define the whole by what is applicable to body 
without life, as in Comte's fiasco cited. Where you 
have life and mind in one you will never define the 
whole by what is applicable to life without mind, 
though one could cite definitions of animal life which 
suit a cabbage as well as a swallow. Where you 
have mind and spirit in one you cannot define the 
whole by what describes only mind, though one could 
easily cite definitions of man which suit a sloth as 
well as a philosopher. The lengths, I repeat, to 
which this false method of definition has been pushed, 
will make reason revolt against it 

Gravitation is not body ; velocity is not body ; 
motion is not body ; light is not body ; sound is not 
body ; proportion, law, sequence, cause, effect, pre- 
vision, adaptation, harmony, end, success are not 
body ; and the laws of body are not their laws. The 
subterfuge that all these are properties of body is also 

untrue to nature, as much so as would be the asser- 

o2 



W POSITIVISM. 



tion that sound was a property of the ear, whereas all 
the ears in the universe could not evolve a sound ; or 
as the assertion that the Suez Canal was a property 
of the Desert, whereas the Desert could never evolve 
it, or preserve it when given. It is a gift to the 
Desert bestowed by mind, and capable of being pre- 
served only by the continued attention of mind. 
Standing in St Paul's Cathedral it is false to imagine 
' that all its constituents are bodies and properties of 
body. The bodies, their properties, and all they could 
themselves evolve, would make together a heap of 
rubbish. All that transforms mere material into this 
fane is mind and powers of mind, giving to body 
properties impressed, differing from ainy that vVould 
ever be evolved : proportion, form, adjustment of 
light to shade, and colouring stuff to light The 
vacant space is greater than that occupied by body, 
and for the sake of that and its uses are all the bodies 
set in their respective places. " 

XI. — No Free Agents, 

The scheme of Positivism theoretically leaves no 
place whatever for free agents, whether on this side of 
the line of the Inaccessible or on the other. Indeed, 
nothing is in theory more scorned than the idea that 
either things or events can be fashioned by voluntary 



* CatechismCt ii. 57.^ 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 85 

agents. At every allusion to their supposed influence, 
it is resented as arbitrary, capricious, interfering, in- 
consistent with order, subversive of law and fatal to 
prevision. Such metaphysical pellets are flung in 
handfuls into the face of facts. This strong anti- 
pathy to will, often apparently a mere intellectual 
foible, is probably not a little connected with the 
desire to suppress freedom, in such sense as we under- 
stand it, and to submit human institutions and life 
to rigid rule, imposed by what Comte and the Vatican 
would agree in calling Authority : that is, the autocratic 
command of a Hierarch. This denial of all voluntary 
agents is consistently maintained as long as M. Comte 
moves on the far side of the line of the Inaccessible. 
In respect of events above Earth, say rather above 
the range of mathematical calculation, he no more 
hesitates than does a historian in the Furanas asto the 
length of reigns in the dynasty of the Sun, a good 
many thousands of years ago. At that distance all is 
as precise as the multiplication table But just as 
the historian in the Puranas finds his vision begin 
to waver on this side of the historical line, so is it 
with M. Comte on this side of his own line, — ^the 
Accessible side. The deeper he gets into nature, 
man, aflairs, the clearer becomes the presence of will, 
and the wilder becomes his inconsistency with his 
dogmas. So long as he reasons about the skies, a 
region whereof none of the facts come within our 



86 POSITIVISM, 



observation except those which can be dealt with on 
the principles of lines, figures, and motions, his thick 
net of axioms forms a sufficient breastwork behind 
which he can to his heart's content affirm that no 
wills act, can scoff at the idea of voluntary agents as 
synonomous with a reign of caprice, can treat the 
fixed order of lifeless nature as the sum total of all 
order. But once entered upon our world, he finds 
that much more of what is going on comes in to 
trouble the point of view. That, however, he has> 
as a controversialist, taken the advantage of settling 
beforehand, on the basis of another region, observed 
only in outline. What exists for lines, figures, and 
motions, must exist for all things, and must be 
a sufficing test of law for them. But after all, within 
this circle of earthly things, first life, next mind, and 
in the third place, moral agents appear, and turn out 
to be realities no more to be got rid of than lines^ 
figures, and motions, and realities at least as signifi- 
cant The network of metaphysical maxims cannot 
stem the stream ; it flows straight through all its 
meshes. Wills do act, and yet caprice and will are 
not synonomous. Voluntary agents do make and 
unmake lines, figures, surfaces, motions ; and yet no 
law of line, figure, surface, or motion is the worse. 
Voluntary agents do make and unmake inert ones; 
change them and change them back again ; intensify 
or restrain their action, combine them or disjoin them. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 87 

all at will, generally according to some intelligent 
design, often in pursuit of a far-reaching purpose. 
Yet no law of any physical agent is violated. The 
fixed order of nature is no whit disturbed ; but only 
her combination of fixed order and free agency is 
revealed and to some extent displayed. 

This clear revelation, however, of free agency 
acting upon a basis of fixed order is the heterodoxy 
of nature. She is treated not as a muse, but as a 
tyrannical schoolmaster who must be barred out* 
Hence the restrictions upon inquiry. Hence the 
defining of every compound by its lowest constituent 
Hence those twistings and torturings of language in 
forms possible and impossible to confound the free 
with the fixed, mind with brain, thought with mere 
" change," will with force, motive with motive power^ 
so that by some means the law of the lifeless may be 
made to appear the law of the responsible. This, 
however, like all rebellion against nature, has its 
reaction. So when, in practice, our power of modifica- 
tion has to be admitted, it is sometimes overdone, in 
seeming oblivion of the fact that in theory it is 
altogether excluded. 

This inconsistency at last breaks out almost 
everywhere; that is, after you have had patience 

Modifying to go do\yn through the surface soil of 

Order. words, phrascs, axioms, metaphors, 
iterations, and professions, and to penetrate to such 



88 POSITIVISM, 



rock or rubble of meaning as may He at the bottom. 
You have feeling modifying ideas and will ; and man 
modifying phenomena, modifying not merely nature, 
but the order of nature, modifying fatality, modifying 
destiny, modifying environment, ay, modifying even 
laws. In this Comte goes much further than I should 
do ; for I insist that what he calls laws, i>., physical 
rules, cannot be modified, which means altered, by 
any known finite agent As to modifying fatality 
and destiny, that is a specimen of the way in which 
rhetoric and muddled metaphysics are put in the place 
of thinking. To talk of modifying the order of 
nature is mere vagueness of expression : room for 
immense variation of state being part of the essential 
order of nature, and what we can vary being not the 
order, but the state ; the modified state being as 
much in the order of nature when intelligent agents 
impose new properties or new action on inert ones, as 
was the original state in her order so long as inert 
agents were left to their own evolution. Modify 
phenomena we can, not by modifying " laws," but by 
setting them in motion and combining them ; or to put 
it more strictly, by modifying inert agents in their pro- 
perties and mutual relations, and conscious agents in 
their notions, feelings, and will ; all which is done 
within the limits of law physical in the case of 
material agents, combined with law mental in the case 
of animals, and with law moral in the case of men. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE. 89 



A universe governed by mere physical law is not 
our universe, where mind has its own laws, and moral 
agents also their own. 

The ease with which Positivism passes from one 
basis of reasoning to another, and an inconsistent one, 
is illustrated in two successive sentences of the CaU- 
Msme,^ The first tells us that Positivism " sets aside 
all searching into the causes properly so called, either 
first or final, of any events whatsoever, as being 
radically inaccessible and profoundly idle. Therefore 
does she always explain haw^ never why!* This is 

TtUdogy sound doctrine, soundly expressed ; but the 
€9mis back, next words : " When, however, Positivism 
explains the means of directing our activity, it, on the 
contrary [italics mine], constantly puts forward the 
consideration of the end ; since in that case the effect 
certainly emanates from an intelligent will." 

The first of these two sentences plants your feet 
on the stony flat of what I shall call Physical 
Legalism, where so far from being able to achieve 
an3rthing, you cannot even learn more than the 
appearance of a thing and its immutable modes 
of operation in a region where end, aim, cause, and 
intelligent will are all pure illusions ; where so- 
called agents are not beings who can act as they 
choose, but things which move as they are moved ; 
where so-called laws are not precepts which it is 

> p. 51. 



90 POSITIVISM, 



good to keep, and bad to violate, but rules that Ifeep 
themselves and must go into operation. The next 
sentence, on the contrary, sets you on teleological 
ground, in a large place and on a high level. 

Here Intelligence addresses itself to intelligence, 
setting in view ends as the motive to prompt to 
activity, instead of leaving all activity to " laws," 
as an evolution directed only by them. Here 
Intelligence trusts to its power of moving kindred 
intelligence, to the power of the latter in guiding^ 
will, to the power of will in directing action, and 
the power of action as a means of effecting practical 
ends. Here wc find again, man and nature, which 
in the dreary land of Physical Legalism were both 
shrivelled up into "organic and inorganic." Nature 
is no nriore a mere machine moved by physical law ; 
but an instrument on which, according to its properties^ 
a potent performer plays. Man is no more a mere 
" governor," on the engine, as incapable of knowing 
the part he has to play, or of learning his duty, or 
setting before himself ends, as are the plates and rods. 
He is a Being. He is moved by a consideration of 
ends ; by appeals to his judgment and desire. He is a 
Power : he can sway the action of his own wondrous 
frame, and through it that of ten thousand agents in 
the outer domain of nature. He is a Cause whose 
will and action bring forth effects. He is an Origin 
giving a beginning first in thought, and eventually in 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMTE, 91 

act or in embodied form, to what previously existed 
not 

But at every conscious throb of his own being is 
suggested to him a Being in which he lives and 
moves. At every conception of an End he is solicited 
to think of One who sees ends afar off, across ages, 
aeons, along all the line of Eternity. At every stroke 
of his power he is invited to look up to a Power far 
above all his might At every effect he causes he is 
reminded of effects he cannot cause, and of a Cause 
above all effects. At every sight of things which took 
from him their origin he is set face to face with the 
fact that all things finite are things which began, and . 
beyond these things of dimensions and of time, his 
reason can find rest only in an Originator competent 
out of His own powers to give existence to them all.: 
The conscious limits of my being, the conscious limits 
of my power, whether in causing change in what exists 
under my hand or in originating what as yet does 
not exist, contrasted with the boundless range of my 
thought and anticipations, makes me like a fledgling 
feeling its wings. Yonder old, old friend, whose, 
bright face has smiled upon me on seas and deserts, 
on Alpine peak and in swarming capital, — steady 
Arcturus seems to say. Once up here, you will take 
from my shores, a view out across the imagined 
bounds of the inaccessible, onward in the direction of 
the next milestone, \ 



92 POSITIVISM. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 

I.— The Object of Worship. 

Wp: have now to obtain a view of the Positive 
Religion, the outgrowth of this philosophy and of 
science as moulded to it, which being offered as a 
system improved upon Christianity, elaborated with 
unsparing patience, and heralded by imposing pre- 
tensions, must on that account have considerable 
interest, so long as any one stands up, as Mr. Harrison 
in his first article did, to proclaim it as the one that 
is to replace what in the quaint shibboleth of his 
school he calls " theology." 

A Positivist has a great advantage over an agnostic 
in possessing a clear idea that a religion is not a mere 
internal sentiment ; but must comprise a faith, a wor- 
ship, and a rule of conduct. This was the order in 
which Comte originally stated them ; but 
Worship, that was a "concession to Catholicism," 
and RuU of recalling which he solemnly reformed the 
order to stereotype it as Worship, Faith, 
and Government. This was one of his most logical 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 93 

proceedings : for first to worship something, and then 
b^Q to believe, or see if you cannot believe, in what 
you have worshipped is, surely, logical when you wor- 
ship literally you know not what Massimo d'Azeglio 
tells how the neighbours in Piedmont, speaking of his 
ancestors, used to say: Those Counts Taparelli have 
not their brains in the same place as others. ' Now, 
satisfied that my reader has his brains in the right 
place, I shall begin with the object of faith, although 
few things more tempting than Comtist worship ever 
fall in one's way. 
What, then, is the object of faith ? Somehow or 
Tiu otjtct other this object is seldom stated by 
of Faith, Comtists in the fully-developed formula ot 
the Master. It is a Triad : The Great Being, The 
Great Fetish, and The Great Environment. The last 
two are soon explained : the Great Environment is 
Space, the seat of the Laws. Space the seat of the 
Laws ! that implies that laws are extended somethings 
which occupy space, a quiet, incidental token of the 
gro\'elling thought to which mere Physical Legalism 
tends. The Great Fetish is our globe. Seeing that 
the pent-up thing called " the world " by Comte — for 
he hardly ever widens out to such a word as universe 
— absolutely consists of nothing knowable except 
phenomena and laws, one would think that the globe 
as seat of some phenomena, and space as seat of all 

' I miei Ricordi. 



94 POSITIVISM, 



laws, would do for his divinities. Not so ; the great 
object of worship is Humanity. And Humanity does 
not mean a humane disposition, neither does it mean 
that common nature possessed by all human beings. 
Mr. Harrison, reeling under the blows of his oppo- 
nents, is willing to give up the capital H. That is a 
sign of retreat ! for when the flagstaff is dropped off 
from the flag, all you can hope is that it may be 
carried off the field, not that it shall wave over the 
foe. What, then, is Humanity ? The definition which, 
in one of Comte's favourite terms, I might call " in- 
comparable," which Dr. Robinet reverentially calls 
" final," is : The sum total of convergent beings ^ That 

is a truly Comtesque definition. You 

Total of have a subject which, before it got into 

Convergent his hands, was intelligible, " humanity," and 

then coupled to it you have a predicate 
" sum total of convergent beings," which is only mist 
with a shine over it. With Comte, as with many, 
a " being " does not mean an intelligent being, not 
even a sentient being. A stone, a child, and an 
angel are to him beings ; i>., a being is a thing. Then 
the sum total of convergent things ought to mean in 
the solar system every atom composing it, and in the 
stellar heavens the same. But as he constantly jumbles 
up sphere with sphere, he means not convergent bodies, 
but co-operating conscious agents. Such agents 

^ CEuvre et Vie tfAugusie Comte, p. 33. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 96 



co-operate in serving the interests of the human race ; 
but in doing so they may converge, diverge, cross or 
collide, and that is no matter. The spokes of a 
wheel converge, but would never co-operate to move 
the waggon did not the horse and man, who do not 
converge, co-operate to that end. All trees converge, 
their axes running towards the centre of the earth ; 
but co-operate to build a ship they never do. No 
metaphors are more calculated to mislead, when the 
fact that they are metaphors . is forgotten, than are 
those drawn from geometry or arithmetic. The fact 
that the original meaning of the terms is precise in 
measure and count renders all applications of them 
when such precision fails, extremely liable to generate 
error. 

What, then, is Humanity? It is the sum total of 
human beings past, present, and to come; that is, 

Th Oh ' ct ^^ ^^ living, the dead, and the unborn. 

of Faith This definition occurs constantly, and is 

4b t^ ' in^P'^^d on almost every page. Now 
this would seem at first sight to be an 
unknown quantity of an unknowable abstraction. 
The number of the living is not known, that of 
the dead is totally unknown, that of the unborn 
the same. The number of the living, indeed, 
is not unknowable: we can conceive its possible 
ascertainment ; but the other two quantities are not 
only unknown, they are unknowable ; and that not 



96 POSITIVISM, 



after some metaphysical sense of the word know, 
which might prevent one from saying that he knows 
his headache, because he cannot give this, that, or the 
other definition of it ; but they are unknowable in the 
sober, literal sense of being utterly beyond either 
observation or inference. Mr. Harrison no more can 
say what is the sum total of Humanity, than can Sir 
Fitzjames Stephen say what is the sum total of hairs 
in the wigs of judges, past, present, and future. 

But after all Comte's Humanity is not the sum total. 
He explains that the word sum total does not mean 

, „ ,. all men, only the useful ones. Mr. Spencer 

A Fraction ' -^ ^ 

even of an thinks it not perspicacious to say that the 
Abstraction, ^ord whole of itself tells you that it means 
not the whole. Mr. Harrison is rather hurt Mr. 
Spencer, he says, ought to take pains to understand 
Comte ; for the word is ensemble, and is French. 
Well, yes, it is ; and is just as clear as sum total in 
English ; and Mr. Spencer might have been taking 
pains to understand Comte for thirty years and more, 
and yet wonder that any Englishman knowing French 
should challenge his remark. Our word "whole" 
may, it is true, be either an individual or a collective 
whole. One brick is a whole, and the sum total of all 
bricks is a whole. But one brick is no more an 
ensemble of bricks than it is a sum total of them ; and 
all the red and brown bricks, leaving out white and 
vellow ones, are not and never can be the ensevtble 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 97 



or sum total of the genus. So when Comte 
says, " the word etisemble sufficiently indicates that 
all men are not to be included," he plays with 
words. It indicates nothing of the kind, except 
to an adept. 

Then who are those who go to form that sum- 
total which sufficiently tells you it is a portion only ? 
To describe them Mr. Harrison is happy enough to 
find a sieve-bottomed phrase worthy of the master and 
the school. "Humanity includes the sum of human 
civilization."* Now, until I read that definition, I 
never had learned in any language, living or dead, 
home, foreign, or outlandish, that civilization was 
a human being past, present, or future. But it seems 
that it is ; and the object of Mr. Harrison's faith is the 
sum total of it ! It is better, after all, to deal with 
Comte directly : he says "sum total of human beings," 
and to human beings I return; but as to the sum 
total ? Having to deduct all that have not, do not 
and hereafter will not contribute to human progress, 
How many are to be deducted ? Unknown ! How 
many remain ? Unknown ! Is either quantity 
knowable ? Both unknowable. 

But M. Comte has an expedient. Any sum total 
of beings is an abstraction ; and even an integer 
abstraction is slender material out of which to frame a 
Great Being ; but the fraction of an abstraction ! To 

* Nineteenth Century, 1884, p. 376. 

H 



M POSITIVISM, 



redress this defect Comte tells you: "Many remain 

Animals ^^ parasites . . . such are wretched burdens 

added on the Great Being . . . but if these makers of 

^ ^^ manure do not truly form a part of Humanity, 

a just compensation prescribes to you to join to the new 

Supreme Being all his worthy animal auxiliaries." 

These he defines as all animals that voluntarily yield 

a useful cooperation to human destinies ; and then 

adds : "We hesitate not then to regard such horses, 

dogs, bullocks, &c., as more estimable than certain 

men."' His everlasting ignoratio elenchi ! The thing 

he had to prove was that animals were a portion of 

humanity: what he does prove is that we call a 

useful horse more estimable than certain men. 

Very true ! and so we do not hesitate to recognize 
as more estimable than certain dogs, such cats as are 
comfortable to live with. But when the point is to 
ascertain the sum total of Caninity, do we subtract 
all the naughty curs, and add on all the excellent 
cats? Indeed, I can remember, more than half a 
century ago, a molecule of humanity to which certain 
sheep appeared more estimable than certain cows 
with the crumpled horn, seeing that these, instead 
of voluntarily cooperating towards the happy evo« 
lution of said molecule, seemed much inclined to 
operate in a manner to arrest its development. 
Nevertheless, it never struck even that molecule that 

CaUchismty pp. 66-67. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 99 

the way to ascertain the sum total of Bovinity was 
to subtract all the vicious cows and add on all the 
amiable sheep. Earlier in history even than that, 
one made the discovery that a living dog was better 
than a dead lion ; but failed to see the inference that 
the sum of Leoninity should be made up by adding 
on one living dog for, say, two dead lions. 

We began with an unknown, — the sum of past, 
present and future men ; from this we were told to 
Tke New subtract an unknown, — the sum of the useless 
Supreme men ; to the remainder, the third unknown, 

*^^' we were told to add a fourth unknown, — the 
sum of helpful animals. Four unknowns do not 
make one known. The first sum total was an abstrac- 
tion, the sum deducted was an abstraction, the sum 
added was an abstraction ; the result is an unknown 
fraction of an unknowable abstraction. This is the 
**New Supreme Being" of M. Comte's tumid abor- 
tions, and of Mr. Frederic Harrison's crackling 
audacit}\ This it is which men claiming above all 
things to be thinkers, can with a serious air offer to 
our souls, to our trust and hope, instead of our Maker, 
Preserver, Redeemer, and Judge. 

II. — TIu Goddess. 

Comte " adoring " Clotilde de Vaux is a spectacle 
not worth wasting a word upon ; being best treated 
as *• pathological." But when men evidently in their 

h2 



100 POSITIVISM. 



senses, read his maunderings about our goddess, — 
I ought to write Goddess, — about her accepting only 
such sincere adorers as are prepared for her " august 
worship by private homages daily paid to her best 
organs " ; ' about " the moral providence of our 
Goddess '* ; about her many points of superiority 
over The Almighty, — when they read this, not as 
hallucination, but as thought ; when they believe it, 
or fancy that they do so ; when they offer it to us 
instead of the truth that has made? us free ; then the 
escape of a pathological explanation not being open, 
we stand puzzled for words. Mr. Spencer has a 
phrase the strict application of which to the master 
might be disputed by experts ; but which docs 
seem wonderfully well to characterize disciples : "a 
lack of mental balance unparalleled among sane 
people." The genius of an inventor easily admits of 
"a bee in the bonnet/' and the genius of Comte 
was essentially that of an inventor, evermore poring 
over constructions, social instead of mechanical. 

Mr. Spencer, in order to "know" the Goddess, 
asks, Where is its scat of consciousness ? Ah ! of 

ry^^ ^ the unborn portion of " her," the conscious- 

Whcu is ness, whether individual or collective, has 
^Ae Goddess ? ^^^^^ ^^^^ . ^f ^j^^ j^^ j portion the 

collective consciousness never was, and, according to 
Comte the individual never more will be; of the 

^ Cat/cAism^f p. 104. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 101 



living portion tlie individual consciousness is, was, 
and will be; but the collective consciousness, where 
is the seat even of that fraction ? 
. I had often put the matter in a plainer way, a 
childish way : Humanity it la Comte, if it is anything, 
must be something; it cannot be a sum-total of 
non-existing things, such as the consciousnesses of 
the dead. Then, what is it ? Is it animal, vegetable, 
or mineral? Where is it? When is it? What is 
it like? What can it do? 

As to the What is it ? Comtism piles up answers, 
which analysed leave, as the residuum, exactly what 
Mr. Harrison says of the Unknowable : " a sort of 
a something about which we can know nothing," 
seeing it is neither organic nor inorganic, neither 
anywhere in space, nor anywhen in time. It has 
no dimensions (except it may be the fourth), it has 
no form or colour, therefore it is not for the eye ; 
no sound, therefore is not for the ear ; no intelligence. 
The Gcddiss feeling, or will, therefore is not for the 
LoMtLu understanding. It is, again to fall back 
Formula, upon Mr. Harrison, "a mere logician's 
formula, .... intelligible only to certain trained 
metaphysicians. .... An abstraction which we can- 
not conceive, or present in thought, or regard as 
having personality, or as capable of feeling, purpose, 
or thought .... An ever-present conundrum to be 
everlastingly given up." This, when we come to 



102 POSITIVISM, 



look into Mr. Spencer, will prove to be less true of 
his Unknowable than of Comte's. The latter Un- 
knowable is only the fiction of a child clothed in the 
phrases of a dreamer. By a strange inversion, Mf. 
Spencer denies to Reality, Power, Being and true 
Presence, the proper attributes of what is real, potent, 
existing, and before us ; while Mr. Harrison tries to 
hang all these attributes on to what has no reality, 
power, or being, and is no where at all. .Whoever 
demurs to the assertion that the sum-total of human 
beings is an abstraction, it cannot be a Positivist 
The Master has decided the point that among human 
beings the individual is an abstraction, and no 
ensemble of abstractions can make up a concrete 
being. 

" The proper character of this new Great Being " — 
it is the master not the disciple who speaks — " con- 
sisting in its being necessarily composed of separable 
elements, all its existence reposes on the mutual love 
which always binds its different parts." > It may be 
true that the Great Being is a compound, but neither 
a chemical nor a spiritual one ; for among the dead, 
who form, as we are constantly notified, the prepon- 
The Goddess derating element in this compound, there 
a Compound, jg ^io chemistry, and, according to Comte, 
no spirit, or even mind. The parts of the Great 
Being are separable ! Yes, the living portion of it 



' Ensemble du Posiitznsme, p. 323. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 108 

we see in parts not only separable, as were the 
Siamese Twins, but actually separate, each part occu- 
pying its own position in space and time. But as to 
the " separable " parts composing the dead portion 
and the unborn one, where are they ? What quali- 
ties do they possess ? What can they do ? All the 
answer Positivism returns to Where ? is nowhere ; to 
What can they do ? nothing ; to What properties do 
they possess ? none. One of the Positivist's axioms 
is : " No properties without bodies " ; then where are 
the bodies of the immensely preponderating portion 
of the Great Being, without which it cannot have 
properties ? Of course I do not accept the axiom, 
which is only a case of false " conversion,*' a fallacy 
almost as common in Comte as ignoratio elenchi. It 
is quite true that there are no bodies without proper- 
ties, but on that account it docs not follow that there 
are no properties without bodies ; any more than 
from the fact that there is no Duke without a man, 
it follows that there is no man without a Duke. 

The compound is a purely metaphysical one, and 
you might as well look for it anywhere but in the 
imagination of a metaphysician, as you might look 
for Homer's Juno, Dante's Beatrice, or Spenser's Una. 
" All its existence reposes " on the moonlight meta- 
physics of M. Comte. " Conceive of it," he cries in 
his helpless inconsequence, '* as like yourself, but in a 
more striking degree, directed by feeling, enlightened 



104 POSITIVISM. 



by intelligence, and sustained by activity." ' Is it 

not " composed " principally of ? " Our Great 

Being is composed for the greater part of the dead." 
Then have the dead feeling, intelligence, and activity ? 
If they have not, the dictum just quoted is the silliest 
of dicta. If they have, Positivism is the silliest form 
of unbelief 



III. — The Goddess lets in Theology. 

"Ten years ago," writes Mr. Harrison, " I warned 
Mr. Spencer that to invoke the unknowable is to re- 
open the whole range of metaphysics ; and the entire 
apparatus of theology will enter through the breach." 
If Mr. Spencer's knowledge of Comtc was not alto- 
gether at second hand, as Mr. Harrison intimates, he 
must have smiled. Invoke the unknowable ! All 
Comte*s praying is that precisely, — invocation of the 
unknowable, ias, in spite of Mr. Harrison, " invocation" 
is his own word. Of the separable parts of his Great 
Being he invokes by preference such as are dead ; and 
the dead are the unknowable. In the "whole range 
of metaphysics" there is no structure more metaphysical 
than is his religion from end to end. In the dead 
wall of Atheism he makes a ragged breach, and 
through it will belief in God come in conquering. 

One of the " Cultured Men, *' Sir Fitzjamcs 
Stephen, says : " I would as soon worship the ugliest 

1 Cat^chisme, p. 210. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANIl Y, 106 

idol in India, before which a majority of the 
Cultured Queen's subjects chop off. the heads of 
Men on poor little goats." This sounds as if the 
* Cultured Man knew what comes practically 
out of the attempts of men of education to organize 
and turn to social uses the superstitions of the ignorant. 
The other Cultured Man who has spoken is 
hampered, as we have seen, with an idea that a Great 
Being ought to be a conscious being. This shows that 
Mr. Herbert Spencer after all is only a weak mortal 
like the rest of us, not one of the transcendentals 
breathed upon by the Goddess, watched by the 
"Angels," tended by the "Guardians,'* cherished 
by the "Immortal Companions," by the "Angelic 
Disciples," whose "Angelic Ascendant" transforms men 
from sober reasoners into cloud-capped phenomena, 
in that state of evolution which might be pictured in 
the limpid Saxon of Mr. Spencer himself as "An 
indefinite incoherent homogeneity." This might be 
also expressed in that equally simple and perspicuous 
piece of M. Comte's Gallic which elsewhere I once 
quoted as, according to the master depicting, "the 
principal conception of Positivism : Man thinking 
under the inspiration of woman to make synthesis 
and sympathy always concur to regulate synergy." ' 
Of course the idea that a Great Being ought to be 
a conscious one is, on the part of Mr. Spencer, a pure 

^ Preface to Cat^chisme. 



106 POSITIVISM. 



piece of metaphysics, with a suspicious leaning 
Ought not towards theology ; not worthy of one 
to be a Con- whom Positivists have so far honoured 
scious Being? as to citehim as one of the "emancipated.*' 
He actually goes on to say : " If the Great Being 
... is unconscious, the emotions of veneration and 
gratitude are absolutely irrelevant." Sir Fitzjames 
Stephen, refreshing his Indian knowledge, might on 
this have said, The Brahmans did better. When they 
made Brahm unconscious, they did not put him as 
primus of the Triad, but set up distinct from him 
a conscious Creator, a Preserver, and a Destroyer. 
Comparing that invention with the poor Parisian one 
Mr. Spencer may cry " retrogressive religion," in the 
logical sense as well as in the chronological one. 

*' A spectator," sa^is Mr. Spencer, in noteworthy terms, '* who seeing 
a bubble floating on a great river, had his attention so absorbed by 
the bubble that he ignored the river— nay, even ridiculed anyone 
who thought that the river out of which the bubble arose and into 
which it would presently lapse, deserved recognition, would fitly typify 
a disciple of M. Comte, who, centreing all his higher sentiments on 
Humanity, holds it absurd to let either thought or feeling be occupied 
by that great stream of Creative Power, unlimited in space or in time, 
of which Humanity is a transitory product."' 

Mr. Spencer knows that precisely this ignoring of 
the river, by absorbing the attention on the bubble, is 
Mr. spenetf^s the " Condition of existence " of Positivism. 

Rwerami He injures his own case by over-stating 
^ ' it, when he says that " the Comtean system 

' Nineteenth Century, July, 1884, p. 23. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 107 

limits itself to phenomena, and deliberately ignores the 
existence of anything implied by the phenomena." ^ 
No, it deliberately ignores not " anything implied,*' for 
it admits that laws are implied, and permits you to 
pursue enquiry as far as to them. But it not only 
deliberately igfnores any cause as presupposed by 
phenomena, and any design as implied in them, but, 
as we already know, sternly commands you not to 
enquire after either, and not even to ask Why ? only 
How? This being, as Mr. Spencer knows, the comer 
stone of the Positive Philosophy, when watching 
Comte tracing the foundations of the new Eternal City, 
he need not wonder to see him behind each brick draw 
a line, and before it another. Behind it stands this 
notice, All beyond in this direction "inaccessible." 
What caused brick-burning, is not to be even asked 
after. Before the brick stands the same notice. 
All beyond in this direction " inaccessible " : the 
design of brick-burning must never be enquired after. 
C«M» and Things do bend so that, somehow, if you 
Final Cause, found out that later in time than the brick 
came a fulfilled intent, say wall-building, you would 
be led on round a gentle circling line till you actually 
arrived on ground preceding the brick in time, where 
up would rise an originating cause. This would be 
the death of Positivism. To return from my poor 
bricks to Mr. Spencer's noble river: if it swells, 

^ Nimteenth Ctntury^ July, 1884, p. 5. 



108 POSITIVISM, 



Positivism gives you permission to ask, How does it 
swell ? suddenly or slowly, an inch a day, or a foot 
an hour? swell smoothly or in waves? but to ask 
Why it swells ? might lead one to say : Because far 
beyond the range of sight rain falls, or in regions 
never explored snow melts. That might make one 
ask, Why does snow melt? because the sun grows 
warmer ? Why does the sun grow warmer ? because 
the earth is moving round him, and our part of it is 
turning now towards him ? And why does the earth 
move round him, and turn different parts towards him 
at different times ? because that is the law ? and who 
made the law ? 

Comte had a certain sagacity, by virtue of 
which when at sea he scented the approach of 
Comtis land. The moment you mentioned Cause, 
Sagacity, he scented a First Cause. The moment you 
hinted at a beginning, he scented a Beginner. The 
moment you mentioned a design, he scented a de- 
signing mind ; also a Will, to him the horrid hydra 
whose aspect always disturbed his nerves. Therefore 
must you not look beyond the phenomenon for why, 
wherefore, or because; you may look at it; and if 
you can decipher the law written on its heart, 
glorious power and prince art thou. But if your 
untaught intellect should ask. Who wrote it ? woe to 
thee, woe. Mr. Harrison will record, " I warned him 
that he would get into strange company " ; and Mr. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 109 

George Lewes will tell you that you are doing what 
no Positive Philosopher would do. 

Now Mr. Spencer says, as irreverently as a Christian 
might do, that in seeing only phenomena, and not also 
the "things implied "by them, Comte "eviscerates 
things," takes the inside out of them, and " leaves a 
. . shell of appearances with no reality inside/' 
of Inquiry, This to Mr. Spenccr is "performing the 
ifUciUrtuai happy despatch," and he very emphati- 
cally for his own part declines " to commit 
intellectual suicide." When I once said that the 
demand upon us to renounce free enquiry into cause 
and design was neither more nor less than a demand 
to truncate our own intellects, and to do it at both 
ends, I did not go so far as Mr. Spencer. 'f His 
enquiry after the seat of consciousness of the Great 
Being, cruel as it is, is not so deadly as the few 
sentences last quoted. By them the beautiful glass 
case placed by Comte over his philosophy, under 
which, and only under which, that exotic can have 
hopes of life, is ruthlessly sent into shivers. 

" Eviscerates things " ! Never was word truer ; and 
how far Comtist habits go towards making men look 
only at the husks of things, shortening their sight even 
for that, how far towards producing intellectual myopy 
we shall be supplied with means of judging. But 
though we are not yet dealing with Mr. Spencer, it 

■ On the Difference Between Physical and Moral Law, 



no POSITIVISM. 



may, even here, not be out of place to wonder a little 
whether he never saw in a certain English Unknow- 
able, a family resemblance, a relation of similitude, to 
speak in proper phrase, to a certain French "in- 
accessible " ? One may wonder also if he, in looking 
with surprise on people who " leave no reality in the 
inside " of things, never thought of some other people 
who, discovering inside of things a reality present 
and powerful, refuse to conceive of it, think of it, 
know it. 

IV. — Mr, Harrison Retreating, 

Sir Fitzjames Stephen is of opinion that : 
"Humanity spelled with a capital H (Mr. Harrison's 
God) is neither better nor worse fitted to be a God 
than the Unknowable with the capital U. They 
are as much alike as six and half a dozen. Elach 
is a barren abstraction."' Sir Fitzjames speaks of 
Humanity as a God. Comte, so far as I remember, 
never does : always as a goddess. One of the saddest 
sights in Mr. Harrison's casting away of arms and 
banners as he retreats, is his saying, " There 

No 
Godhood ^s no godhood now in Humanity." Does 

»« he know or does he not know, how Comte 
uniamy ^^^ ^^ official Parisian Comtists speak 

first of their goddess, next extol her providence moral, 
intellectual, and material, after that magnify her 

■ Nintteenth Century^ June, 18S4, p. 910. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. Ill 

worship, and finally plume their wings for flights to 
her honour and glory, as a divinity much to be 
preferred to the Lord Almighty, singing pseans which 
are mostly parodies ? 

Dr. Robinet, who himself takes pains to show us 

that the object of worship is "existence" and not 

** beings," nevertheless thus pseanizes. Humanity is a 

^^^^ very real being. She is the only true Great 

is the Being, the only true Supreme Being ! im- 

Coddess, measurable, because she covers the world ; 
eternal, because she embraces at one and the same 
time past, present, and future ; Almighty because 
no intelligent action can be compared with hers. 
It is on Humanity that our destinies depend. It 
is she who protects us against fatalities exterior and 
interior ; who defends us against physical evil and 
fortifies us against moral evil. It is she that dimin- 
ishes the pressure of natural imperfections and 
mollifies their bitterness. It is she whose tutelary 
action, the sole providence of our earth, has gradually 
elevated us from the miseries of animality to the 
charms and grandeur of social life. In her is our stay, 
in her our force, in her our consolation, our hope, and 
our dignity! She is the measure of our duty, the 
condition of our happiness, and on her advent depends 
the salvation of the world. ' 

There is no godhood in Humanity, says the English 

' CEuvre^ p. 37. 



112 POSITIVISM, 



Positivist ! What a descent from the height higher 

than Olympus ! We come down to a level where we 

hear that ''The religion of Humanity is simply 

morality fused with social devotion, and enlightened 

by sound philosophy."* If, in executing his strategic 

change of base, Mr. Harrison throws away, as I before 

said, arms and banners, he never parts with drums 

and trumpets. He keeps the drums all beating, and 

makes every trumpet blow. Sir Fitzjames Stephen 

" raves " like Timon of Athens ; both his opponents 

talk " sheer nonsense." In this perplexed hour, Mr. 

New Defini' Harrison adds to the exact definition of his 

Hon of the Goddess already cited two others equally 

luminous. In the first, she was the sum 

total of human civilization. In the next : " Humanity, 

I say, is nothing but the sum total of all the forces of 

individual men and women."^ But really, I have 

some doubt as to whether all the forces of individual 

men and women are civilizing. Mr. Spencer and 

Sir Fitzjames Stephen, though they are not Christians, 

seem to raise points about worshipping forces that do 

not come up even to the height of being civilizing. 

Had not Comte himself misgivings ? Did he worship 

all ? In the third definition, we read : " The march of 

civilization of which Humanity, as I understand it, is at 

once product and author. "^ This is very precise. 

* Nineteenth Century y No. 91, 370. 
' p. 37. ' p. 373- 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. US 



The GcKldess is the product of a march. Who began 
the march ? At what stage did it produce the God- 
dess ? What was marching before the march became 
a march of either civilization or humanity ; that is, up 
to the time when the march made the Goddess? 
Moreover, seeing that Humanity is a product of 
civilization, what existed to civilize and to be civilized 
before any Humanity had been produced ? 

I shall assume that the religion of Humanity still 
means the religion of M. Comte, and not the Sum of 
Civilization^ that new Absolute Unknown, bom of sore 
embarrassments. I shall also assume that it is not 
T/ie sum total of all the powers of individual men and 
women, a second Absolute Unknown, born of the 
same stock. And finally that it is not The product 
and author of the March of Civilization, latest 
Absolute Unknown, offspring of the same distressed 
parents. The real religion of Humanity, comprises, 
then, besides the faith and object of faith, a Worship 
and a Rule of Conduct. Its worship takes in the round 
Ritis and of secret, family, and public devotions ; of 
Ceremonies, temples, groves, altars, processions, banners ; 
of calendars, commemorations, and festivals, of sacra- 
ments, nine in all ; of greal annual solemnities, of rites 
and ceremonies manifold. The secret devotions are 
the type and expositor of all the rest " Our God- 
dess " is worshipped only through her " best organs." 
These, to a man, are mother, wife, daughter ; to a. 

I 



114 POSITIVISM. 



woman, father, husband, son. Comte, instead of his 
own wife, who could not live with him, any more than 
colleagues could keep right with him, or even friends 
could get on with him, unless, like those of Carlyle, 
they came, as Mr. Froude says, to worship ; — instead of 
his own wife, he worshipped the memory of the wife 
of another man ; — his palavers about whom are mere 
folly, for their attachment was free from criminality. 
Instead of a daughter, he selected his cook, as some of 
his friends called her, as others his housekeeper. The 
Comtisnvn d^ad mother, the dead sweetheart, beside 
Guardian his living wife, and the housekeeper, were 
- "-^-f- ^Q ^^ High Priest of Humanity, the Organs 
of his Goddess. He conferred on the non-existent 
dead, by free grant, what he called a Subjective Life. 
That did not mean a life within their own con- 
sciousness, exempt from sensations caused by physical 
objects. Nay, consciousness they had none, capability 
of sensation, none. The Subjective Life of Clotildc 
de Vaux had no more effect on the self, the I, of 
,. , , Clotilde de Vaux, than has the dream of a 
<^^fi of gold digger on the veins in the rock. 
ininiortaiity, j^g^ ^ ^^ existence of the vein is often 

all within the self of the digger, subjective to him, 
and only to him, so was the life of Clotilde de Vaux 
all within the self of her sweetheart, subjective to 
Comte, and only to him. This thorough misappre- 
hension of terms is characteristic of his metaphysics. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 1 16 

This Subjective Life it is which he and the poor 
gentlemen who copy him, call " real." By means of 
it they do almost as much for the dead as Dr. 
Tyndall does for atoms, a vigorous fancy in the 
Positivist giving to dead non-existence immortality, 
and in the materialist to lifeless existence the potency 
of conferring life.^ The art of reading out all true 
meaning from terms, need hardly be pushed farther 
than by trying to pass off upon me, as an equivalent 
for my expectation of fulness of joy at God's right 
hand for ever more, the prospect that some other 
man's wife may make pictures of me in her imagina- 
tion when I am dead, and call it for her part private 
worship ; while to me it is " immortality." 

These pictures on the imagination are to be care- 
fully drawn. Remember ! the steps of the process 
Hrd) to ^^ prescribed by one who has formally pro- 
PUture scribed the study of mind in mind, on the 
^^2* ground that it cannot observe its own opera- 
tions. Three times a day, are you to worship; 
two hours would be a proper length of time to spend 
in doing it. You are to recall the last posture in 
which you saw your "guardian angel," also the seat 
and the garb. You are to keep her or him always 
at one age Hence, very seriously does the "great 

' Le cas le plus simple, et aussi le plus usuel, quand on applique le 
colte subjectif 4 faire dignement revivre un 6tre ch^ri. — Catichisme^ 
p. 85. Un simple prolongement de Texistence r^Ue. — ^p. 85. 

I 2 



116 POSITIVISM. 



thinker," infer for himself and instruct you that in the 
subjective life the age is fixed. Yet you are not de- 
ceived. He does not pretend that there is any "object," 
which has an age either to be fixed or unfixed. 
Only, for all that, there exists the Subjective Life, 
which is the real life ; and in it the age is fixed. 
Such are the realities of that lunar world where 
"man thinking under the inspiration of woman," sees 
what we see not. To give vividness to your portraits 
in mind-colour, you are to limn them in detail. You 
may for beauty's sake — to idealize your drawing, — 
omit real faults in the original, but you may not insert 
artificial merits, except in a very moderate degree. 
Thus perfecting your picture, you "commemorate" the 
dead, and adore Humanity, by "a sort of interior invo- 
cation." This commemoration is to be followed by 
"effusion," telling your "organ," and through her Hu- 
manity, how grateful you are for her benefits, how 
trustful in her providence, how zealous for her service 
great above all gods, goddesses, or other fictitious 
Comte's beings pictured by "theologians." You do not 
Prayers, ^sk her for anything. Yet "prayer" is the 
ordinary word for what you do, and another word 
is "invocation." "My holy interlocutrix'' is Comte's 
epithet for Madame de Vaux. The dwelling of M. 
Comte is often called the holy abode ; and yet pushed 
by his opponents our English Positivist abandons 
even "holy Humanity." One of the grand effects 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. J 17 

of Positive education as anticipated by Comte, is 
that eventually every one will become artist sufficient 
to compose his own prayers. 

This worship of the abstract idea of Humanity 
under the representation in your mere imagination 
of her past in the mother, of her present in the wife, 
and of her future in your daughter, or some other 
woman is, then, the cultCy the final "realism," the 
definitive and positive form of worship which " syn- 
thetically reveals to us Humanity, and develops the 
feelings proper to the existence she prescribes to us." 
The reality of the object of worship, as contrasted 
with the " fictitious,*' beings of theology, is illustrated 
to the reason of M. Comte by the fact that in his 
" secret effusions," the Positivist shuts his eyes, in 
order "the better to see the internal image," whereas 
the theologist opens his eyes to see outside of 
himself a chimerical object ! 

It is a fair specimen of Comte's metaphysics 
when to distinguish between the mind-picture 
drawn by memory, and the original picture on 
the mind impressed by sensation, he calls the 
former " the image," and the latter " the object."- 
He much more frequently calls the former, " the 
interior image," and the latter, "the exterior im- 
pression." As if the image first made on my mind 
by the portrait of Comte is not as much interior as 

' CatichisnUj p. 86. 



118 POSITIVISM. 



one later evoked by memory. It is not the impression 
that IS "exterior," but the portrait, between which 
and the impression come air, light, lenses, retina, and 
a good many other things. The stage of transfer 
— rather of transformation — from impression to idea, 
whereby the impression of certain black marks on a 
white ground, which is all the engraving of Comte 
when before me had to "impress" on my brain, 
became spiritualized into conceptions of a man of 
certain qualities, is a stage far too real for Comte 
and far too deep for his philosophy : a stage treated 
by many men more fit than he with ludicrous super- 
ficiality. Comte could better talk of the essential 
end of subjective worship being the cerebralinvoca- 
Hon of beloved beings. This phrase reminds me of 
another of his minor merits : he often points an 
antithesis as between things cerebral and things 
corporeal. 

I said that nothing is asked for of your beloved 

beings. That seems the ordinary repre- 

askedfor sentation of the case. It seems also to be 

'^ Mr. Harrison's. Yet Comte has this 

language, Although the Positivist prays 
above all as an effusion of his feelings, he may also 
ask, but only for noble progress. To ask for riches or 
power would be absurd, as well as ignoble. The sign 
of the cross is not copied ; but you do something : 
you touch on your cranium three bumps, the organs 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 119 

of love, order, and process. Public worship is called 
Collective invocations addressed directly to Humanity. 

Of the nine sacraments, Admission consecrates birth 

Ccmtfs The priest takes from the parents theit 
Sacramaus, solemn eng^ement to prepare the new scion 
of Humanity _/5?r the service of the Goddess, The new 
scion has not godfather and godmother, but two* 
living "patrons," chosen by his parents with the sanction 
of the priest Their assistance is to be primarily 
" spiritual/' but also temporal in case of need. More 
than this, he has two patrons from the dead ; not 
exactly patron saints. Yet is the scion to select at a 
later stage a third for himself, from the "sacred 
representatives of Humanity." Mr. Spencer is cen- 

The sured for taking the " sacred representatives " 

Snnu, in the Calendar for canonized, and it does 

seem hard to canonize something that exists not ; 

but is it very easy to make it a representative, and 

that of the Great Being ? 

The second sacrament. Initiation^ is received at 
the age of fourteen. Then begins the systematic 
education by the priests. At twenty-one Admission 
authorizes the youth to "freely serve Humanity," 
from which up to that time, " he received everything 
without rendering anything"! So, all that bright 
childhood does for home, all its reaction on the 
workshop, the counting house, and the factory of the 
fathers, all that our working boys, cabin-boys — brave 



120 POSITIVISM, 



helpers of all humanity, many a one of them — mill- 
boys, plough-boys, and others do for us, is nought ! 
Yea, and have I never seen a tiny girl, whose heritage 
from humanity was of the humblest, rendering to 
humanity service enough to light one up with a smile, 
to make one say, God bless the child ! service in 
carrying her father's dinner, in tending the baby, 
or in helping her mother to make and mend ? 

The *'free" or emancipated servant of Humanity 
will in seven years more have shown what his calling 
should be, and at twenty-eight he receives the sacra- 
ment of Destination, Other religions reserved only 
for priests and kings a sacrament of orders. Hu- 
manity confers it on all. To the temple, before the 
priest, must every one come to be fixed by public act 
in the calling appointed for him ! It may, however, 
be changed. The next sacrament is Marriage^ for 
which women are eligible at twenty-one, men at 
twenty-eight. The priests only can relax this law. 
The sacrament of Maturity comes at forty-two, for 
men only. At sixty-three that of Retirement. Every 
man then selects his successor, for all are viewed as 
functionaries. He must have the sanction of his 
superior in doing so. The transfer is publicly done, 
and is subject to checks from clergy and people. The 
capitalist reserves of his property a personal pro- 
vision. In relation to the sacrament of Transforma- 
tion which replaces the Roman Catholic rite of 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 121 



Extreme Unction, Comte lets fall not a compliment 
so frequent with him for that church, but the word 
" horrible ceremony," as if a feeling broke out common 
among families in the South of Europe as to the uses to 
which death-beds are put The transfotmation of what 
death is about to transform from a living man into so 
much dust and nothing more, is a strange term. The 
priest gives a view of the sum of the " existence which 
is now ending." Seven years of death pass over before 
the next sacrament — Incorporation, This is meant to 
represent, perhaps, the judgment of the Egyptians, 
but at all events the Apotheosis of the ancient 
Romans, and the beatification of the 
SubsHtuie modem. This sacrament "irrevocably 
f^'' fixes the lot of every one." That is, 
fixes the lot of what for seven years 
already has been nothing but dust and ashes, and 
is never more capable of becoming anything, except 
whatever chemistry, natural or artificial, may turn 
such dust and ashes to. But the famjjy feelings and 
repute are " fixed " ; for the priests pronounce a judg- 
ment, according to which the remains are either 
carried in a solemn procession, headed by the clergy, 
to the sacred grove surrounding the temple, or else 
are borne as a pestilent burden to the " desert of the 
reprobate," among persons executed, suicides, and 
duellists. 
Much of the meaning is still left in the term 



122 POSITIVISM. 



Excommunication. The priests, in the name of the 
Great Being, pronounce sentence, branding the culprit 
as a false servant, thenceforth no more to partake of 
the duties or benefits of human association. The 
offender, however rich or powerful, will be gradually 
abandoned by subordinates, domestics, and even 
nearest relations. In spite of his wealth no one will 
serve him : he must procure his own subsistence. 
He may flee the country, but cannot escape the 
reprobation of the universal priesthood, unless he 
takes refuge with some nation which has not received 
the positive faith, which will eventually extend over 
the whole human planet' This reminds me that the 
most descriptive name for the priest is formally 
stated to be "judge." 

It might have been thought that in totally giving- 
up the life of the soul after death, Comte had lost to his 
priesthood all power over the dead, and consequently 
all derived from them. But his faculty of imitative 
invention was wonderful. In seven years of suspense 
for survivors, coupled with the prospect of a solemn 
assize that would "fix the lot," both of the body and the 
-, memory of the deceased, he gained back 

Mortem a Considerable portion of what he lost by 

fudgment. giving up purgatory. True, his plan in its 
conception is perfectly free from the trading element ; 
but how in practice it could succeed to the commerce 



' CcUichisme^ 266. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 123 

of purgatory in countries where that had prevailed 
without bringing in an analogous one, is hard to see. 

V. — The Dominion of tlu Dead over the Living. 

The brilliancy of his feat of faith in calling into 
life, from nought, the Subjective Populatidn of 
humanity, and making religion, morals, society hang 
not upon ghosts, but on mental pictures of men and 
women who left no ghosts, greatly elated M. Comte. 
The "chimerical gross idea" of "objective immor- 
tality," that is, of an immortality involving thought, 
feeling, and action, was an anti-social fiction ! Con- 
trariwise, Subjective Immortality, — that is, immortality 
composed of the thoughts living men may have 
about a dead one who cannot think, — is noble and 

e ,. ^. real, and calls out and fosters social 

Subjective ' 

P^puiaHoH instincts! The essential subjective do- 
ofHnmamiy, nriinion, that is, of the dead over the living, 
forms in our social existence the part that cannot 
be modified. The pretension to escape from this 
empire is a symptom in the unsoundness of mind 
towards which the West is travelling. This empire 
will soon make the course of civilization more 
calculable than that of some stars. After these 
sentences, which I condense, comes one which, for 
the comfort of this Age of Great Cities, I must 
give verbatim: "When the true Great Being shall 



124 POSITIVISM, 



worthily occupy all the human planet, every city will 
live under the total weight of all the preceding 
generations, not only of those which have relations 
with its own interior, but also with the entire sum of 
our terrestrial ancestors."' The effect of all is, that 
the living are more and more governed by the dead : 
a favourite formula. 

From some passages one would think that the 
long " cerebral hygiene," which for twenty years 
he kept up, not reading book, journal, or periodical, 
save only daily Dante and Thomas i Kempis, sub- 
stituting in the latter case for the name of God, 
that of Humanity, had at length done rather more 
than to necessitate Littr^'s naive explanation, that 
in earlier years M. Comte had done fruitful reading. 
It would seem as if the brain had come to take 
the portraits it painted within for real beings 
governing us at their will, and not for images made 

* PoL Positive II. pp. 362-364. Mr. Harrison's version of this 
passage is elegant and faithful to the sense ; but I prefer being literal. 
It may hereafter be said that the Duke of Argyll took as a title, The 
Reign of Law^ from Comte, since Mr. Harrison uses that phrase in 
tran.slating a paragraph or two after the passages last quoted. The 
phrase is the Duke's; and is put into Comte only by a very liberal, 
rendering, one that gives him more than his own. All Comte says is 
that the positive mode of conceiving phenomena had ^' to attain to the 
most complex and noblest of them.*' This Mr. Harrison translates : 
' *■ That the most complex and noblest of all phenomena, the human, 
should be brought within the General Reign of Law." [The capitals 
are not mine.] — Positive Polity ^ p. 298. II fallait que son ascension 
objective parvtnt jusqu' aux ph^nom^nes les plus compliqu^s et les plus 
nobles. — Pol. Pos. II., 368. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 126 



and unmade at our will. In saying this I do not 
wish to intimate that one who, throughout a con- 
siderable number of years, shuts off his mind from 
the thoughts of living men, and holds it always in 
converse with images graven by itself, telling these 
•that they are the realities, and pouring out to them 
effusions of feeling, to which he gives the name of 
prayer and worship, will in the end retain the 
capability of remaking the images at will, or of 
setting bounds to their power over him. But in 
judging of Comte's meaning in such cases, we need 
to make allowance for metaphor by which things are 
made to feel, speak, and act in ways very wonderful, 
more wonderful even than those in which a German 
commentator inpersonates his theory, and makes it 
think and feel to any amount. If all Comte means is 
the influence of the mind and life of past generations 
on the lot and course of the living one, then are his 
words on this matter as hard to construe into 
rationality, as on some others. The fact that men 
being dead yet speak, the fact that the generation of 
to-day follow for good in the footsteps of generations 
long departed, or that for evil men of this century 
follow a Jehu of some century preceding who taught 
them to sin, are plain facts of human history, long 
recognized both in the abstract and the concrete. 

More than thirty years ago, from the fact that such 
a one as St. Paul was exercising in our day a greater 



126 POSITIVISM, 



influence forgood than a host of living men, and that his 
influence grew broader and deeper as time rolled on, 
I deduced the inference that it was hard to conceive 
of his own thought and feeling as being extinct. ' 
Young then, I already knew enough of Positivism to 
regard it as one of the noxious forms of Parisian 
plague. Now that I see the light glinting off white 
hairs, — a sheen of the Better Land, — you come to tell 
me that the extent to which deeds done in the body 
will react on my life after dissolution is to be measured 
by what I make survivors think of me, and not by 
how much I make them think of God and of His 
Christ ! When once I had become Nothing, what life 
would be given to me by the recollections of others ? 
Not more than is given to a gravestone by letters 
carved upon it What would it do for others to 
think of me ? But if any word by me spoken or deed 
done should be so blessed as to lead some one while 
I live or after I die to remember his Creator in the 
days of his youth, he would when old regard that as 
an eternal benefaction. If any word or deed should 
be so blessed as to lead some one in advanced age 
to seek after, and taste the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, for him the " starless grave" would be changed 
to an opening upwards disclosing a firmament of 
suns innumerable. 



' Lecture on Heroes, Volume of Young Men's Christian Association 

for 185 1. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 127 

•■ » 

The law laid down by Comte : that present genera- 
tions come more and more under the power of past 

Livinjt Ruled °^^^» ^^ taken not poetically, but as a 
by Dead, scientific Statement, is simply untrue ; 

^ Nn-i^ro' ^^c^pt of Stationary or retrograde com- 
grtssive munities. In India or China, where, 
Omtmumtus. before modem inroads of Western energ}'^, 
the spirit of civilized life held the living in subjection 
to the example and lessons of the dead, arts, sciences, 
and society tended to decay. Among M. Comte's 
beloved Fitish folk the same is the case ; and generally 
also under the sway of his " admirable " religion of 
the Moslems, which presents things in this century 
behind the state in which it found them twelve, ten, or 
five centuries ago. But it is otherwise where men 
know that they are not under any dominion of the 
dead, real or imaginary ; where they know that, heirs 
of whatever the dead have given, taught, and done, 
they are free to go beyond it, rise above it, and, if 
they find it false, to depart from and overthrow it ; 
where they know that to this they are called by 
the Father of dead, living, and unborn, and that 
instead of honouring the dead by being** ruled " by 
them, those most honour the great benefactors of 
mankind who use their gifts not as mere moulds in 
which to cast images of them, but as germ-thoughts 
out of which to evolve somewhat in advance of the 
original, be it like to it or unlike. 



128 POSITIVISM, 



» 



If in our social existence the dominion of the dead 
had been the " one portion that could not be modified, 
We can Break then would human progress have altogether 
theT^ d't'^ ceased. If every city had lived under the 
of the Dead, weight of the accumulated power of the 
human dead, then would the banks of the Thames have 
been governed from the graveyards of Asia or Africa. 
No; the empire of the living by the dead is one of 
the base superstitions which engender individual 
feebleness, and social rot ; just as the dependence for 
life " subjective or objective,'* — that is, imaginary or 
real, — of the dead upon the living is a potent fiction 
of priestcraft, full of harm to character and property, 
fraught with seeds of unreal care. One half of this 
truth Comte saw when he spoke of " immortality " as 
an "unsocial" dogma; knowing how Purgatory was 
made an instrument of ravages upon death-beds, 
perpetrated in the name of souls existing, indeed, 
but existing in such a state of dependence on fellow- 
creatures as is unknown even in life upon earth. Of all 
the accretions upon Christianity by adaptation from 
Paganism, none was so potent as an instrument of 
degrading the clergy into huxters, of rendering 
property insecure, of reducing families, and of en- 
feebling the foundations of civil order as the Religion 
of the Dead in the form of Purgatory. According to 
present fashion, these statements will be called 
bigotry : they are history ; and the bigotry and 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 129 

injustice lie on the part of those, who with history in 
their hands, refuse to see the facts, and reproach any 
who do see them. 

" Christ died, rose, and lives again that He might 
be Lord both of the dead and the living:." 
Ijfrdof ^^ ^^s hand stands yonder cottage child, 
Dead and and all the powers of all the dead, of the 
vtng, "aggregate of our terrestrial ancestors," 
cannot hurt a hair of his head, without permis- 
sion of his Father in heaven. That child is is 
neither a half beast, as Sir Fitzjames 

What a •' 

Cottage Stephen calls mankind, nor a whole 
Ckiidisto beast, as Mr. Harrison, while professing 
to consider man our highest known power, 
in very deed and truth makes him, — a beast that 
perisheth ; a beast who is more cunning, indeed, than 
any other beast of the field, but who is only, as if a 
chemical compound more complex than others, a 
something that ceases to exist when the compound is 
dissolved. That child is a ward of Almighty power. 
It is no more at the mercy of the dead now that it is 
one of the living, than it will be at the mercy of the 
living when it shall have become one of the dead« 
While it is in this mortal life, the departed can 
no more work it any ill than can the invisible vapours 
of last years snow cut gashes in a diamond. 
When removed hence its rest, its life, its gladness 
yonder ; the brightness of its dwelling, and th^ 



130 POSITIVISM. 



measure of its store, will no more depend on the 
loving memory of this boy or the vivid picturing 
of that girl, on the spells of this priest or the 
incense of that altar, than will the flight and song 
of the lark, its air, its sun, and the panorama 
opened to its eye below, above, around, depend on 
shells in larks' nests, or on the embryos within them. 
The life and immortality brought to light in the Gospel 
end these religions of the dead. The living are not 
slaves of the dead, the dead are not dependents of the 
living. "-^1? lives"; and therefore we live also; and 
no servant's will shall assign the portion of living or 
dead, though many servant hands may bear it, serve 
it, or carry it away. They that know what it is for 
the living to live under the full weight of the power of 
the dead, on the one hand, or, on the other hand, 
what it is for the dead to be viewed as pauper depen- 
dents on the bedesmen of the living ; they who have 
seen how in the former case stagnation reigns, and^ 
how in the latter case goods and independence vanish 
from families to be centred in the childless, they only 
can begin to form a sober estimate of that priceless 
liberty wherewith Christ has made us free : free while 
we live from the malice of the dead ; free when we 
die from the neglect or cupidity of the living. 

Five hundred years ago was seen moving up and 
down from Oxford to London, Ludgershall or Lutter- 
worth, a Yorkshireman, whose large eyes were all 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 131 

alight with genius, with lore, and with high restor- 
ing purpose. Here upon the commanding 
n^and hgjghts, there in the fattest valleys, sat 

when under o » J ^ 

tJu what he called Caimes Castles, which 

/^^'dw ^"'^ ^^^^ ^^ \zxii, plundering the living 
in the interests of the dead ; castles in 
which licensed riot "counselled, consecrated and 
regulated" all civil life. He saw one set of men 
selling prayers, a given quantity and quality for so 
much, and another set of men buying prayers, so 
much for a given quantity and quality ; and he said, 
I seem to see men trading in their own shadows when 
the sun is going down. ' 

Wyclif, in hearing the groans of poor and rich 

under a dominion of the dead administered by armies 

of priests, and looking into the Gospel of Christ to 

learn what He had instituted, gave voice to the public 

longing in a loud cry for the restoration of the liberty 

wherewith Christ had set us free, liberty which he 

«, #.^» evermore, and with all varieties and reitera- 

Cry for tions. Contrasted with the rule of the " sects," 

Ckrisfs j^s he Called them, foisted in "modem" 

Frtcdom. , • . « i i 

times mto the simple church set up among 



' Tales stake mercantes cum oracionibus {sic) sunt similes stolidis 

mercantibas cum suis umbris sole ad vesperam declinante. — Wyclif s 

Lttin works, Vol. I., p. 347. The two volumes already brought out by 

the Wyclif Society, are essential to all who want to understand the 

moral Making of England. To the irrecoverable disgrace of English 

letters, these writings are Brst printed, not at Oxford, but at Leipsic, 

and edited by a German. 

K % 



132 POSITIVISM, 



men by our Lord and His Apostles. The shadow 
benefits of which he saw the monks making mer- 
chandise were not more shadowy than the Comtist 
prayers, "guardian angels," and "angelic devotions," — 
mere idols of the cave, — which are commended to us 
by Mr Harrison. And though the "grossness" of an 
immortality dependent for its rest upon the liberality 
ol the living was sufficiently seen by Comte to make 
him avoid reinstating the mercantile element in the 
post mortem power of his priests, or in the offices of 
prayer, nevertheless those offices as fixed by him 
would be more debilitating to the human mind than 
even those invented for Purgatory, and probably also 
would more rapidly tend to the confounding of reality 
with figment, and to the consequent loosening of 
moral foundations. 

VI. — Comte' s Moral Aims Real. 

It must not be supposed that in thus speaking, I 
would call in doubt Comte's desire to reorganize 
society on a basis of morality. In that he was 
sincere and very earnest. His sense of the ruinous 
effects of vice was keen, his estimate, — in theorizing, — 
of family life high, his admiration of goodness real. 
His powers as a thinker, have been ridiculously 
exaggerated ; his weakness as a reasoner, felt by most, 
has been distinctly pointed out by scarcely anyone ; 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 133 

and what was no particular enigma in his intellect, 
any more than in that of many men with a genius 
for imitative invention, has been fought over as if it 
was something to vitiate all he did on the one hand, 
or on the other, a hallowed cicatrice not to be 
alluded to. 

His wish to found a religious and moral society 
was at least as real and strong, as his desire 
to be the Head of that society. And so perfect is his 
failure to find foundations, after a life-long absorption 
in the search for them, that if one could honestly 
think him a wise man and a sound reasoner, as well 
as one intending to do good in a social sense, one 
would feel that there was some advantage in magni- 
fying his wisdom, when recording the futility of his 
system as set face to face with Christianity. He did 

Religion wish to found a " religious " society, but 
without God j^is irrevocable postulate was that it must 

4tHd Aforctls 

without be without God. He wished to found a 
Rights, moral society, but again his postulate was 
that it must take physical laws and moral laws as 
equally ** invariable." I do not mean that he is 
consistent with this ; for often, especially in his later 
writings, he is in flagrant contradiction with his 
fundamental assumption. All that notwithstanding, 
the assumption exists and appears in a thousand 
forms. One of his axioms being that " Every theo- 
logical tendency, Catholic, Protestant, or Deist, 



134 POSITIVISM. 



really concurs in prolonging and aggravating moral 
anarchy ,"i he must expel belief in God from among 
men. To this end it was that he proceeded to prove 
that each separate science is hostile to belief in God ; 
because it shows that phenomena are governed by 
law, and not by " arbitrary wills " ; it being assumed 
that if an Almighty Creator existed his will would be 
the antithesis of law and stable order. This conceit 
might seem to be imputed by malice to one with any 
repute as a thinker ; but it is the life-blood in 
the veins of his oddly organized system. In har- 
mony with the attempt to found Religion without 
God, is Comte's attempt to found morals without 
rights. A principle of his, oft repeated, is that 
men have no rights — that, indeed, the word right 
should be banished from morals, like cause from 
philosophy. 

In his tenth circular M. Pierre Lafitte bewails the 
fact that the appeal against Comte's will was based on 
the ground that he was an Atheist and a Madman. 
The worst was, his wife maintained these grounds ; 
and in her presence her counsel added : " M. Comte 
has three angels : Madame de Vaux ; his housekeeper 
or rather his cook ; and, Mr. President, I scarcely dare 
to add that he included his mother in such company.'' 
A sorrowful addition is: "Madame Comte has the 
custody of the picture in which an eminent artist has 



^ Ensemble du PositirnsnUj p. 392. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 185 

reproduced the great renovator thinking under the 
inspiration oi his guardian angels*'^ 

VI I. — Cotnte on Society. 

Having in this spirit gone through what he takes 
for a circle of the sciences, and having filed away the 
idea of God out of nature, he comes to society. This 
is absolutely governed by nature, nature is absolutely 
governed by "laws," and the great achievement of the 
Positive Philosophy is to show that the movements 
of society, instead of being the resultant of many 
forces — physical forces under physical laws, acting 
with and acted on by mental forces under mental laws 
and by free moral agents under moral laws, — is 
the highest result of a single force, "invariable laws," 
which no will, human or superhuman, originates or 
administers ; physical law, mental law, and moral 
law all concurring in one " immoveable order." To 
this "immoveable order" are all events subject, 
whether events of the interior man or of exterior 
nature, "all phenomena whatever," so that the different 
classes of them will become equally capable of being 
predicted, when once their laws are known. These 
laws and this order all come of the one metaphysical 
source, "necessity," which, in the absence of a Why or 
a Cause, is perpetually brought in to account for men 
and things. 

^Robinet, (Euvre et KtV, p. 568 and p. 547. 



130 POSITIVISM, 



It is wonderful how with a framework of studies 
so contracted as "organic and inorganic," and with 
social postulates so visionary as that the individual 
man is an abstraction, and that human rights have no 
existence, Comte could rise to moral aims even as 
high as those he recognised. But of the fact that 
without moral bonds society could not cohere he 

Altruism ^^^ ^ ^^^ g^sisp. He accepted explicitly 
or the principle that we ought to live for 

otherwise, ^^j^^^g^ ^^^ enforced it. He would have 

spumed the notion that it came to him from the foot 
of the Cross ; from the unconscious testimony borne 
by the enemies of his fictitious founder of Christianity 
to the principle embodied before their eyes in His 
life and death : — "He saved others, himself he cannot 
save." The ground, however, on which Comte could 
place this duty sank to the level of his belief. We 
were to live for others that we might live in others 
and by others. That is, in order that when we were 
dead others might remember us with reverent 
affection. To him Man at his origin was a fatherless 
iruit of earth ; and the individual man at his hour 
of departure was the heir of nought : neither of 
Father nor brother, neither of joy nor consciousness. 
He could not say, If you love your Father, you must 
love your brother, for there being no common father, 
brothers there were none. So, the old word Brother, 
sacred at least ever since the days of Moses, that 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 137 



word which in Paul's apology to a raging mob, 
whom he calls "Men, Brethren, and Fathers," strikes 
in silvery contrast to the word of Socrates 
in his apology to deliberating fellow citizens : "Men 
Athenians" ; that word Brother consecrated in even 
the lowest types of Judaism and Christianity, and not 
foi^otten by Moslems, drops out and disappears. 
Your fellow man is only "another." Your love is not 
"brother-love," it is love of another, coined into the poor 
Latinized word altruism. Your only life after death is 
the Subjective Life which consists in such memory 
of you as may be cherished by the living. Your only 
hope of "eternizing" yourself is by living in the 
recollections of the race. Therefore, so to love others 
and so to live for them that they shall recognize you 
as a true servant of Humanity, and hold you in 
eternal remembrance, — that is your way to "im- 
mortality," in the measure of lean signification left 
within sublime words. 

Selfishness takes many forms sordid and futile ; 
but one so utterly empty of meaning as the ambition 
of being, after death, pictured within some one's brain 
as a " saint "(/^^ Mr. Harrison) is scarcely to be 
found. The love of happiness, that noble spark of 
the divine nature, which in Christianity everywhere 
gleams, and is everywhere fanned, fanned by light 
airs of earthly good, by gales of eternal bliss, is 
sneered at by Positivists as selfishness. This is 



138 POSITIVISM. 



worthy of their metaphysics. The expansiveness of 
Joy, the benignity of Peace, the tendency of Hope to 
do good and to communicate are truths too deep for 
them, broadly as they are sown on the surface of the 
Bible, and oft as they spring out of the ground all 
around us. Not to seek happiness would be infra- 
human ; would be a shade of diabolism short of 
seeking to make others miserable. To live for others 
in order to live in them is for a selfish end, and an 
end hollow as a child's fancy. To live for others in 
order to save that which is lost, to comfort the sorrow- 
ful, strengthen the weak, and restore the broken 
character to the image of God, is unselfish, though 
filled full of happiness, of a happiness which is clearly 
accounted for by the principle that God is love : for 
then is living for others truly sublime when your love 
becomes to them a token, faint, indeed, but ex- 
pressive of the manner of love wherewith God has 
loved them. 

The startling principle that "rights" are to be 
banished from morals, as "Causes" are from philo- 
sophy, is logical.* With what right in its 

ch^^v ' Vv ^^"^^ ^^'^ ^ thing come into being that is 

not the offspring of any one, only one 

bubble more upon a stream ; not even an effect of a 

cause, only a sequence of certain antecedents ? To 

a Christian every child of man comes into the world 

^Catkhismiy p. 297. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 189 

bearing in its right hand a scroll written on the 
inside with duty, and on the outside with rights : 
" Thou shalt love God," duty ; " Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour," duty too, but duty involving corresponding 
right, — bright, in the name of God, to the love of 
every man. At the side of such private right stands 
supreme Authority, and behind that 

PuhHe 

Authority Authority Eternal Power and Godhead 
uimiifies itself That child is not merely an " other." He 
'^iiS?"'^ is the offspring of God. Let all men do 
him good, and God will bless them for it ; 
taking the benefit to the child as a tribute to Himself. 
Let any man do him ill, and God will reckon with 
him for it ; taking the injury to His offspring as an 
offence against Himself Of all this Comte seems to 
have had no knowledge, any more than if it existed 
not in Holy Scripture. To him God was the " Anti- 
social " despot whose service wrested you away from 
that of human kind, before whom the highest holiness 
consisted in renunciation of natural ties, in the ex- 
change of real human duties, for a buried life passed 
in artificial forms. Therefore, though he could rise 
with the Christian so far as to say, Love one another, 
it was not for him to reach the level whence it can be 
said : He that loveth God, let him love kis brother 
also. 

And as to the level from which he delivered his 
own precepts, he owed it to Christianity. If the 



140 POSITIVISM. 



contrary be asserted, then it is for his disciples to cite 
the authentic instance in which a race beginning as 
what they assume to be not men in a primitive 
condition, but men in their primaeval state, to borrow 
a distinction from the Duke of Argyll, rose, by simple 
Practical Test ^^^e of human nature, from absolute 
for the savagery first to Fetish worship, next 
ihree States. ^^ Pdytheism, after that to Monotheism, 
and finally to Positivism. Cases are not wanting of 
populations which have existed from before the dawn 
of history in continuous succession from generation 
to generation. Some such races have lived where 
they were separated from any communities acted 
upon by the doctrines and institutes of Moses, the 
Prophets, and the Lord Jesus Christ Only in that 
case are they of any scientific value for testing the 
Positivist principle. If, then, one such community 
can be traced through Comte's stages, we may begin 
to ask whether there is not in human nature some 
" necessity," such as he assumes. But the fact is that 
just in proportion as men were separated from the 
original centre of the race did they lose organized 
society ; and in proportion as they lost that did they 
sink deeper towards Fetishism with savagery. A 
further fact is that they begin to rise from such a 
condition only by influences from without. Therefore 
the famous Law of the Three States appears not to 
be the result of a scientific induction, but to be a 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 141 

simple d, priori metaphysical guess» on which society 
is to be explained by our modern Positivists as was 
physical nature by the ancient Sophists. 

When our English Positivist minimises the religion 
of Humanity to the mere principle of recognizing 
your duties on human grounds^ he backs far, very far, 
from the true line of front. Tlure is^ says Dr. Robinet, 
[the italics his] only one Positivism : it is the religion 
of Humanity. They only are Positivists who accept 
all its dogmas, and sincerely seek to apply them . . 
. . . that religion has its See, its worship, its priest- 
hood ; it has a saint for founder, and in case of need 
will have its confessors and martyrs." * 

Comte's system recognizes the fact, — does much 
The Vaiut of i[^oxQ, than imply it — that only on a founda- 

laa//y^ tion prepared by Christianity, could a solid 
Confessed, moral superstructure be reared. He assumes 
that he would lead mankind onward to higher stages. 
I assert that his methods would lead them backwards 
towards Polytheism, fetishism, materialism, and moral 
decline of every kind. For it is very noteworthy that 
in his scheme both Polytheism and Fetishism are 
virtually, though mystically, embodied, while Mono- 
theism is strictly excluded. I need not say that I do 
not use the word Polytheism in the vulgar sense, 
utterly false and groundless, which assumes that to 
Pagans it meant many Supreme Beings. Never, and 

* CEuvre et Fie, p. 387. 



142 POSITIVISM. 



not anywhere. It meant gods many, each particular 
god being far from Supreme, Infinite, or Eternal ; 
being simply an immortal of perhaps celestial, of 
perhaps terrestrial birth, and possessed of such power 
as fell to his lot, or as he could acquire in contest. 
With both Fetishism and Polytheism Comte evinces 
constant sympathy. From Romanism what he omits 
are Christian doctrines and the Christian type of 
ministry, what he accepts are the elements which 
point towards Polytheism and Fetishism, which again 
he parodies. He also accepts much of the Roman 
Civil organization found in the Papal form of 
hierarchy. " Catholicism minus Christianity," was 
the natural summary of one. "Catholicism plus 
science," was the reply of a Comtist No ; for of 
Catholicism Comte rejects the Christian part, the 
salt, and keeps the Pagan, and political. Had the 
Comtist said Romanism plus science, he would have 
been nearer the truth, but even then we should 
have to read out from the meaning of Romanism its 
Christian elements. Neither Catholicism without 
Christianity nor Comtism plus science will stand 
Christianity and science will both stand. 

While this was passing through the press, I read, in 
an official discourse of Mr. Harrison, that Positivism 
had no priestcraft that needed to be dropped. Every 
Brahman and every Roman Catholic Priest would 
say the same of his own system. Comte's Polity is 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 143 

before the world, and every one can judge for himself 
of the extent of professional illusion involved in the 
belief that it contains no priestcraft A system more 
aiinutely contrived to rule mankind by a corps of 
priests, directed from a sole centre, it would be 
difficult to invent 

VIII. — Society an Organism. 

An example of Comte's method of employing his 
terminology and of reasoning occurs in the typical 
case of representing Society as an Organism. This 
is a point on which Mr. Spencer gains for himself the 
applause of Mr. Harrison, as employing the correct 
term. Society, according to Comte, is not merely an 
organization formed among individual men, like a 
corporation or a regiment, but is an organism like a 
man or a microbe. So far from being bound by the 
fact that this is only a metaphor, he expands 
metaphor to allegory, and pushes all^ory to identity. 
Yea, society, in his hands, becomes an organism even 
more compacted together than is an individual. 
" The Social Organism is a single whole just as, and 
even more than, the individual Organism." " Even 

' I give the version of Mr. Harrison {Positive Policy II *V) The phrase 
unt soHdariii equivaUnte et tnime supevieure [Politique Positive II, 227) 
m^ht be thought scarcely to sustain his rendering ; but it fully indicates 
the concurrent action of part with part under common bond . In another 
plice (Politique Positive II. 287) the simple word solidarity is rendered 
fay Mr. Harrison, solidarity or membership of a body. (Positive 

Poatjr n. 238). 



144 POSITIVISM. 



this does not content him. He affirms that now and 
henceforth we are to take our type of the individual 
organism from our sociology ; that means in plain 
words, — ^alas, alas, for poor people afflicted with a 
necessity of attaching to every phrase a definite 
meaning ! — when we want to know the physical con- 
stitution of a man, we must deduce it from our theory 
of Society ! Be not startled ! for the next phrase is to 
the effect that the direct study of the true Great Beings 
the only being in whom life is completely developed, 
will henceforth yield the normal groundwork for our 
conceptions of less eminent organisms, be those con- 
ceptions scientific or logical. ^ If, then, the collective 
whole is the true organism, the analysis of it properly 
falls in the first instance to the physiologist and the 
chemist, and only after them to the philosopher. 
One can imagine it possible that Comte on pro- 
^^^ pounding to men of science the grand 
Organism principle that society was an organism and 
I eongs ^^^ j^g elements were families, its tissues 

the Province * 

of the classes or castes, its organs cities,* may have 
Physiologist, i^g„ j^gt ^yi^-h the obser\'ation : If it is an 



'^{Politique Positive II. 288). Mr. Harmon's version makes the 
assertion even more definite than the original ; not merely the ground- 
work of our "conceptions," but of our '* knowledge. " 

^ Politique Positive II. 290. In at least one case he makes social 
forces to be the tissues; the forces are Numbers and Wealth — 
material force ; Conception and • Expression — intellectual force ; 
Command and Obedience — moral force. That is command where 
right does not exist ; obedience where there cannot exist a right to 
command. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 146 

oi^nism, then you will pass it over to the physiologist, 
who will ascertain what are its functions and organs, 
and next to the chemist, who will ascertain what are 
its elements and principles. The facts being thus 
properly sifted, it will then be for you as a philosopher 
to point out the relation of those facts to one another, 
to man, and to the general scheme of the universe. 
If he ever got a reply of this sort, it would stimulate 
the bitterness with which he inveighs against the 
narrowness and prejudice of men of science, against 
their anarchical speciality, and incapacity for receiving 
general views. For instead of regarding his elements^ 
tissues^ and organs as rather poor allegorizing, he of 
course regarded them as great philosophic concep- 
tions, and pieces of sound reasoning. Yet he gravely 
inserts warnings against pushing analogies too far 
lest we should be drawn into fanciful conclusions ! 

He would himself have resented a use of any 
mathematical term such as he made of " Organism." 
The fact that analogies could be traced between a 
circle and a sphere, or between a square and a cube, 
would not have beguiled him into calling a circle a 
sphere, or a square a cube. But it was another matter 
when the term, instead of being one whose corre- 
spondence with the thing it stood for could be checked 
by measure or number, became a logical one in the 
higher sense of being checked only by thought, and 
general observation. In this wider sphere the fact 

L 



146 POSITIVISM. 



that in society exist analogues to what exists in an 
individual organism, deludes him into calling society 
an organism. And he is quite aware that only 
analogues exist. Having made up his mind to call a 
mere sum total an Organism, of course this reacts 
upon his reasoning. 

Religion, he holds, must place men under an 
external Power. This is the development of the 
biological view that an organism is subordinated 
to its environment. Teaching this, biology proves the 
necessary superiority of an external Power. And to 
provide this external Power, religion presents us to 
Humanity, as pictured inside of our heads. From 
the fact that an individual man is dependent for 
breath, warmth, light, drink, and food on things 
external to his frame, things totally beyond his power 
to produce, is drawn the conclusion that collective 
man is dependent on nothing whatever outside of 
collective man. Or if this is not the implied inference, 
then it is, that collective man though, like an indi- 
vidual man, dependent on external powers, is to carry 
all praise and trust only to his own credit. The 
fact that " the environment " of man individual or 
collective is external, might have led to the ques- 
tion, what is external to the environment ? Air is 
not the outside of the universe ; no more is sun- 
light : What do they depend upon ? Does biology 
tell us ? 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 147 



Now what biology does is not to " place " anything, 
but to learn what things are really placed, and how 
the Power that places has placed them. Religion 
according to Comte is to begin by "placing" man 
under an environment, to find which it goes in search 
of Humanity. Biology finds earth, air, fire, and water 
existing as the environment of every individual 
oi^nism, — ^pre-existing as really External Powers, 
powers different in nature .and scope from the 
organism, beyond its skill to "Compose." Religion, 
according to Comte, finding no adequate Power 
around, beneath, above man, is bound to "place" him 
under a fiction of its own devising. If biology, instead 
of finding that all trees are dependent on the external 
powers of air, light, &c., set itself to work to "place'* 
them under an inverted external power formed of the 
sum-total of all good trees past, present, and future, 
and then called this a Power whose supremacy did 
not leave us in any incertitude, we should at least 
doubt whether, with all their alleged " anarchy," men of 
science would not call back biology from its aberrations 
to observation and rational inference. 

One more case may not be without interest. H« 
dwells upon the law of mechanics that motion 

Jibtum oj common to a whole system does not 

Bodies a$§d disturb, as among themselves, the bodies 

^^ comprised m that system. For mstance, 

l^unominm, when a railway carriage rushes on at fifty 

l2 



148 POSITIVISM. 



miles an hour the passengers retain their respective 
places. But if one of them refused to go on at that 
rate, or tried to stand still, or to keep to ten miles an 
hour, he would come into collision with the rest. This 
is movement. So also the progress of opinion is 
movement, and if all advance at one velocity there is 
no collision, but if some are slower or quicker then 
the mass, collision must arise. This, for a sound 
thinker would be an illustration ; for Comte they 
are two cases of motion, the one in inorganic physics. 
Both the other in social physics. Motion in the 

tfuT "^ sense of transport of a body from place 
of Mechanics, to place, and motion in the sense of a 
change of opinion, are ruled by the same law ! in 
the latter sense " motion " or ** movement," is a mere 
metaphor ; as much so as when we say that a road 
runs. 

Few more curious exercises of intellect, and not 

Terms tised ^^^Y "^o^e instructive, could be found 
in Degraded for some honest foe to " false coin " than 
Senses, going through Comte and taking note oi 
the terms which for purposes of correct thinking are 
spoiled, by one or other of the two processes of 
reading in meanings or reading them out ; spoiled so 
as to lead to the confounding of physical atoms, and 
elements of thought ; of bodily organs and offices in 
society ; to the confounding of objective with sub- 
jective, of concrete with abstract, and so forth, amid 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 149 

much parade of attention to these distinctions. When 
one realizes the extent to which a writer like Comte 
may degrade language as a vehicle of clear ideas, one 
feels that if Max Miiller could awaken the public to 
the depth and height of the deception that is going 
on, and to its tendencies to deteriorate that plumb 
and straight method of mind which makes strong 
men, he would do for us a service not to be valued 
in gold.' 

It would be more lively to point out Comte's 
reflected influence upon Mr. Harrison's metaphysics 
PbsitivUt and range of view than to indicate in the 
Metaphysia. duller master the original qualities ; but it 
would be less useful. Perhaps Mr. Harrison would 
object to his metaphysics being spoken of, as he 
seems to think it possible to dive into the profound 
questions of philosophy without any metaphysics, — 
one of the odd signs of the school to which he has 
put himself. A London lad led down to Margate 
by a great magician, and told he was to bathe in 
the sea, plunging head foremost into deep water, but 
to keep clear of the salt, always rises up to me as 
the type of an innocent disciple of Comte who 
eschews and abuses metaphysics. 

As to mental myopy naturally induced by Comtism, 
take one sentence. Mr. Harrison, instead of ascribing 

> His Articles in the Nimitenth Century on Forgotten Bibles and 
Savages are real contributions in this sense. 



160 POSITIVISM. 



" veneration and gratitude," to any Being or Power 
Restricted above men, says : " I prefer to ascribe 
Inquiry j^ ^^ ^j^^^^ human race which we know 

generates 

Narrffwness and feel ; and which so far as we can see 
of View, [italics mine] has fashioned its own destiny 
in spite of tremendous obstacles in his environment" ' 
" So far as we can see " ! and how far can a Comtist 
see ? Though we knew that he durst not try to see 
as far as a cause, a design, a why, or an origin, one 
might have thought that he would retain, at least for 
the first generation, the ability to see as far as the 
homely old "elements," earth, air, fife, and water. 
But no ; the race shapes its own destiny, in spite of 
tremendous obstacles in his environment Its en- 
vironment is composed of those four constituents. 
They are in its " destiny " the pre-established forces 
without which man cannot live, against which he 
cannot prevail, and which he can no more " fashion " 
than the compass can fashion ship and sea. He 
" fashions his own destiny" ! How far overhead does 
his power of " fashioning " extend ? A few inches. 
The sun is the most potent factor " so far as we can 
see" in the destiny of man, viewed as a perishing 
animal. Did he fashion the sun ? Ether is another 
factor perhaps only second in importance; did he 
fashion it ? And so on through all that is grand in 
the surroundings of man " so far as we can see." 



^Nineteenth Century^ 9i» P- 374* 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITy. 161 

The destiny of man had to be fashioned from afar, 
had to be fashioned by harmony of more worlds than 

Did Man ^"^ » ^^^ ^^ ^^ fashioned by power over 

faskUmhis dull mass, over swift force, over empty 

own DesHnyi ^^^^^ . j^j^j ^q \y^ fashioncd by lighting in 

one world the lamps of another ; had to be fashioned 
by fitting within man adaptation to things without, 
to things beneath him, things around him, things 
above, things unseen, and things unspeakably far 
away. It had to be fashioned by moulding into one 
system distinct domains ; a first consisting of inert 
agents governed by invariable rule, incapable of self- 
determined action or of alternative modes of acting : 
a second consisting of animated agents governed by 
mental laws capable within a given range of self- 
determined action, and of a given control over inert 
agents : a third consisting of free agents governed by 
violable but not variable moral laws, and capable not 
only of self-determined action and of alternatives as 
to modes of acting, but also capable of controlling 
both animated nature through its mental laws, and 
inert nature through its physical ones. It had to be 
fashioned so that the necessitated action of the inert 
s^nt should be subordinated to the intelligent action 
of the animated one, and that this again in its turn 
should be subordinated to action of the free agents, 
in such manner that he, with his higher law, should 
reign over both animated and inert nature ; the 



152 POSITIVISM. 



mental laws of the one and the physical laws of the 
other being coordinated into such harmony with 
his own higher law of liberty that his dominion while 
ameliorating his own condition, should tend also to 
the amelioration of both animated and inert nature. 
All this co-ordinating of different orders of agents, in 
different orders of relations, ranging from the free and 
responsible to the fixed and irresponsible, required 
and in all reason pre-supposed One capable of giving 
both liberty and law, both force and ability to 
wield forces, both motive powers necessitating some 
given movement of bodies, and motives addressing 
themselves to those powers in mind which represent 
the very opposite of necessitated movement, namely, 
the ability to chose between one of two alternative 
courses. 

The babe that is to-day unborn and to-morrow 
will be one of us knows nothing of "the environ- 
ment." Earth is to him unknown and for the 
moment unknowable. Yet has he already feet to 
walk with. Air is to him equally unknown, yet has 
he a set of apparatuses which all Humanity could 
not fashion for putting him into harmony with air. 
Make if you can an air cell, a drop of blood, a vein, 
or a vocal chord. If you cannot, and will not see 
farther than Comte permits, do stand out of the 
sunshine of free mind. Speech is to the unborn child 
unknown, yet has he — in tongue, ear, throat, chest, — 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 163 



a world of living levers, valves, pulleys, and impellers 
all fitted to wed the future thoughts of his breast to 
those of fellow men. To him plants, water, and 
minerals are unknown. Yet is he replete with organs 
and forces pre-arranged to assimilate these to himself 
and out of them to " fashion," bone of his bone and 
flesh of his flesh. So far then as I can see, that babe 
at his first entrance upon his future environment, at 
his first contact with the things which go to make it 
up, bears in his hand a noble patent of descent, which 
reads : My Father made them all ! this eye and that 
sun are from one Author ; this chest and that air from 
one Author ; this voice and those ears of men and 
animals from one Author ; this mind and those pro- 
portions, movements, harmonies of distant 

To Whom are^ 

Vemraiim worlds from one Author. So far as I can 
4mdGratUudi gee to that Author is due my first, my 
deepest "veneration and gratitude," the 
sole object He, in turning to which my whole nature 
feels that its faculty of veneration and gratitude is 
called out with full play and worthy scope. And no 
sooner do veneration and gratitude swell upwards to 
the Great Parent, than they dictate toward the off*- 
spring a fellow-feeling, warm as brotherly love, and 
ennobled by eternal hope, — hope that he and I may 
together glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. 



164 POSITIVISM. 



IX. — Mr. Harrison's Humanity, 

Mr Harrison did well in resenting the terms in 
which his antagonists spoke of our common race. 
He did well in asserting its claims on our respect and 
gratitude, and in saying that these virtues will die 
out if "philosophers succeed in persuading the world 
that the human race are a set of Yahoos." He did 
well in speaking of our human "brotherhood." In 
all this he turned his face towards Christianity. 
None knows better than he that the brotherhood 
which Christianity nurses in her bosom, and feeds 
with every word of the Christ, feeds with His flesh 
and blood, becomes in Positivism a shrivelled change- 
ling — an Otherhood. None knows better that the 
human race, which even in its state of sin is in 
Christianity dear beyond measure to an All-blessed 
Father, has in Positivism no Father, and is dear to 
none better than itself. No one more fully knows 
that the human heart, which in Christianity is lifted 
upwards by the Brotherhood of the Son of God, has 
in Positivism no sympathy from above, no friend, 
brother, or helper fairer than the average of that race 
of which so many ruin one another, and so many 
more speak only of rivals, enemies, or hollow friends. 
Mr. Harrison well said that anything worthy to be 
dignified by the name of religion, involves " religious 
belief in something vastly nobler and stronger than 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 166 

self," Yet he asks me to give up my happy faith in 
One who is not only vastly but infinitely nobler and 
better than self, whether self means me personally, 
or as in the lips of a Positivist it may mean, the 
moral sum total of the race ! If the portraits of 
Mr. Spencer and Sir Fitzjames Stephen given by Mr. 
Harrison are correct, they stand for personal worth 
on a level, on which no careful thinker would place 
the average of the race. Yet that race is what they 
are invited to worship as vastly nobler and better 
than self. Their recoil from the invitation ought 
to lead Positivists to enquire whether our Father, 
"vastly nobler and better than self," is not a real 
Power instead of being fictitious, whether He is not a 
Lord and Saviour instead of a chimera. 

It may seem hopeless to add, so complete seems 
the self-illusion of Positivists as to the hold on man- 
kind of religion, as men mean it, that perhaps that 
recoil may lead Mr. Harrison to somewhat qualify 
his conviction that " the cultured man " takes the 
Goddess of M. Comte for the Power that controls 
our lives. 

Mr Harrison did well in declaring that Humanity 
had no "godhood," that it was no substitute for God, 
that he was willing to drop the capital H, that he 
was willing to give up the word "worship," and 
to speak rather of showing affection and reverence ; 
and that he wished for no other worship than such 



166 POSITIVISM. 



as we give to our father and mother. In all this he 
turned his back on the religion of Humanity. 

Perhaps Mr. Harrison did not do particularly well 
in copying the trite fallacy which evades proving that 
it is right to pray to dead men, by proving it right 
to hold the worthy dead in veneration. And, he 
ought, in judging his two opponents, to remember 
that they reason like men, not like Positivists. When 
they are summoned to accept a religion of Humanity* 
to accept Humanity as a substitute for God, and as 
an object of worship (which pace Mr. Harrison putting 
off the harness, is what they were summoned to by 
Mr. Harrison putting it on), their reply is directed 
not to the false issue of the ignoratio elenchi^ 
"respect and affection," but to the true one, **adore." 
From a Positivist point of view he certainly did 
not do well in saying that Humanity is no substitute 
for God. To us Christians of course it is not We 
Is Humanity ^^sent the proposal of it as such ; — resent 
aSuhsHtutt it not only as an outrage on all moral 

for God? Qrder, but as seeming to us an affront 
to any intellect to which it is offered, the very offer 
supposing that the person's reason may be capable of 
entertaining such a proposal. But in Positivism there 
is no controversy. From beginning to end to displace 
God by replacing Him with Humanity is its spirit, 
its letter, its proclaimed intent, its vaunted result. 

"If people mean by religion," says Mr. Harrison, 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 167 

"going down on their knees and invoking a super- 
natural being, I will wait till the word religion has 
lost these associations." ^ people mean this! What 
else should sensible people mean? Going down on 
our knees to a Being supernatural to ourselves and 

The True ^^^ ^^^^' ^^'^ invoking that Being, is 

Idea of religion. In that act all the depths of 

Religion. j.g^Qn g^jjQ ^j|.jj ^jjg ^^^ Adore. All the 

fields of nature re-echo with the cry, Ask and receive ! 
for asking in order to receive is an established method 
of nature. But going down on your knees to invoke 
what is not a superhuman being, what is not even 
a human being, nay, not even a useful animal, a 
cow, such as Hindus worship ; what is nothing more 
than a mental image of a woman whom you believe 
to be out of existence, were she your own wife or the 
wife of another; — going down on your knees to 
invoke that figment, or invoking it without going 
down on your knees, and calling the act worship and 
religion, is to me one of the most grotesque of human 
superstitions ; and my personal observation of them 
has not been small. 

To tell a race to unite by finding within itself a 
centre of union is one of the oldest and frailest of 
our illusions. It has been the curse of mankind 

The True ^^ ^^"^ ^^ bringing us under one human 

Centre Of head, whether political or religious, or both 

Umon. combined in one; — a phantasm of ambition 



168 POSITIVISM, 



which from Babylon and Memphis down has brought 
forth war and woe, and which, if less threatening at 
No. 10, Rue Monsieur-le-Prince, than in some other 
places is, as Mr. Mill said, "more ridiculous." A 
centre of union for a species lies not within the 
species, but without it The centre of union for the 
trees is not a tree : it is Earth, the root and fatness 
of all trees. The centre of union for the streams 
is not a river : it is Ocean, the fulness of all streams. 
The centre of union for all the planets is not a 
planet : it is the Sun. The centre of union for our 
breasts is not a breast : it is the Air. The centre of 
union for eyes is not an eye : it is the Light. The 
centre of union for Christians is not a Christian : 
it is the Christ The centre of union for man is not 
a man: it is the Eternal Father. The centre of 
union for worlds is not a world : it is the Maker of 

them all. 
A man retreating is entitled to complain. Yet the 
False complaint is very odd when Mr. Harrison's 
ThtoiogUal opponents are chidden for " foisting " into 
Terms. Positivist phraseology, "theological ideas 
when none are suggested by us." What else did 
they mean to suggest ? Their terms are " Religion," 
"The True Religion,'* "The Church," "Worship," "sys- 
tematic worship," " prayer," " invocation," " temple," 
"priest," "sacrament," "faith," "the true faith," "dog- 
ma," "Angels," "Guardian Angels," "Immortality," 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 159 

« Eternal," " Infinite," " Almighty," " The Great 
Being," " The True Great Being," " The Supreme 
Being," " Our Goddess." Men making such a cling- 
clang of theological terms, and saying that they 
suggest no theological ideas, may, no doubt, be 
reasoned with, but one has to ask, On what principles 
are we to set about it ? If once they begin to feel 
ashamed of their illicit commerce in stolen terms, a 
commerce by which most of their gains have come, 
there is hope of their resorting to the bullion of 
sterling speech, when their poverty will soon appear. 

Even at the last Mr. Harrison assumes that ''intelli- 
gent" love and respect for our human brotherhood 

ivkai ' nieans love and respect on Positivist 

^Wnuiii^ent'' grounds, that is, on the belief that the 
Law to Man t j^^^ jg ^^^ ^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^y^^^ ^^ individual 

is "an abstraction," that human life is a breath 
which goes out for ever, that instead of one human 
soul being worth a world, all human souls are not 
worth a straw, and that the sum of human character, 
human aims, and human hopes here and hereafter, are 
interests for which no thought has ever been taken in 
any mind higher up in the universe than minds 
housed in crania of bone. Now to me these views 
seem not only unintelligent, but seem to display 
a lack of acquaintance with facts caused by your 
predetermined limitation of your point of View. 
In like manner is it assumed that recognizing 



160 POSITIVISM. 



your duty to your fellow men "on human grounds," 
involves the exclusion from your view of divine 
grounds. If there is no Living God in whom men 
have their being, with whom they are in constant 
relations, then, of course, "human grounds" are 
bounded by the lines of human persons. But if such 
a Being exists, and if human relations with Him are 
actual, then grounds which exclude the consideration 
of those relations and of that Being are improperly 
circumscribed. They are narrower than human 
grounds, and in their practical operation, if left to 
work without being counteracted by the broader 
Christian view, they would be inhuman. 

"Divinities have ended for us," says Mr. Harrison, 
as if he knew. Not knowing it, he is prepared to 
assert it Asserting it, he is prepared to require us to 
admit it, if we are to take " human ground." If 
we demur, he will call our views "theological," 
A Krooman thinking that a name to frighten us. One 

Skipper. who Can take such a stand appears like a 
skipper on the African shores, say a Krooman, who 
calls a " foreign-going " captain a star-gazer. I, says 
the Krooman, go from headland to headland. I steer 
by what I know. I keep to terrestrial ground. But 
he ! why he fancies that out of sight of land people can 
find out what spot they are on by looking at another 
world through a glass. That is celestial ground ; 
and we are not simple enough to believe that it is 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY, 161 

from another world that we are going to learn whether 
it is here we are or there ! ! Is the Krooman right or 
wrong ? Is sighting the headlands, when put in com- 
parison with taking the sun's altitude, a method more 
properly human or only more narrowly so ? Suppose 
the heavens left the Positivist African and his head- 
lands to themselves, to their laws and what they and 
their laws could evolve, in fine, to things accessible,, 
what would be evolved ? or to take the proper Posi- 
tivist word, what would by "inviolable necessity" 
take place ? There would be a lack of phenomena I 
the headlands would make no appearance ; the land 
would not manifest itself; the laws would issue no 
mandate ; all things would lapse into the Inaccessible,, 
into the Unknowable ; and the philosophic Krooman 
would set his bright eyes upon a stone wall of dead 
darkness. Therefore let him learn that terrestrial 
grounds to be true to earth must include the gifts 
and forces of other worlds, and also active relations 
between them and these shores on which we sail. 
But, in candour I must say, that the Krooman skipper 
who should take the sighting of successive headlands 
for a process depending only on earth, only on 
human nature, would be too unintelligent to match 
with the scores of West Coast Christian Negroes 
whom I have personally known, or with the Moslem 
nations, the Bedouins, or Kabyles. 

Men that have read other books beside Comte and 



162 POSITIVISM, 



the amateur philosophizing of some physicist, holding 

up their faces and telling us that in order to take 

human ground for loving our Brother we 

The Tvtu 

Human "^ust shut out his Father and ours ! Men 
Ground for that have read some other history than 
Brvikcr*^ in Comte spouting about enthusiastic love 
for the human race as new ! What, love 
to the life, love to the death, to the cross, to the 
lazar-house, to the rack, to the deadly swamp, to the 
cannibal oven, to the burning stake " New " ! The 
modern obscurantism or physical legalism, which in 
the name of " laws *' not only will shut up the universe 
in the two pigeonholes of organic and inorganic, but 
will find no other place for its Author and Finisher ; 
which further shuts off the mind from any study but 
that of appearances and "laws," can surely operate 
rapidly in reducing mental range, and obscuring 
knowledge actually acquired, when a gentleman ol 
gifts and attainments can unconsciously speak as 
from a level of information below that of multitudes 
neither gifted nor highly taught. What is new is 
not the love of mankind, not the prizing of a human 
being, even one of the bad, as beyond all earthly 
valuation ; it is the fancy that reducing the relations 
of the human race to those of a perishing animal, and 
making that a cause for man worshipping man and 
not his Maker, is a ground for enthusiastic love of 
mankind. 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY. 163 

One never outlives that feeling of having to deal 
with a ludicrous conceit which arose unconquerably 
when first one realized, as seriously intended, the idea 
that Humanity conceived of as without a Father and 
without a Future was more properly an object of 
interest than Humanity conceived of as the offspring 
of God, and as fraught in each single person with an 
immortal soul. The feeling of ludicrousness rose to 
a high pitch when from mere interest in Humanity 
the conclusion was pushed on to the worship of it ; — 
to the worship of what had first been proved to be a 
waif to whom could not apply even the saying : " It is 
somebody's bairn" ; to the worship of what had first 
been proved to be a bubble which to-day rolls upon 
the stream and to-morrow will disappear for ever* 
It seemed at that time a conceit eminently un- 
English, incapable of winning an English imagination. 
Harriet Martineau*s astute avoidance or veiling of 
Comte's weakest points, and Mill's tardy effort to 
relieve himself of the discredit due to his ill-measured 
encomiums, rather confirmed this view ; seeming 
to indicate that the English intellect, even when 
most atheistical ly biassed, was too robust for these 
Parisian fumes. But in Mr. Harrison we have an 
authentic case of an English gentleman of mental 
force and finish, possessing an organ of credulity so 
commodious as to take in Comte bodily. [I use the 
language of phrenology, which in speaking of Comtists 



164 POSITIVISM. 



seems to be the proper tongue.] To him fatherless 
futureless Humanity is a more proper object of 
enthusiasm than man viewed as the divinely appointed 
lord of this Earth, of a world in whose habitable 
parts rejoices the Wisdom of the Eternal, as the being 
among whose Sons that Wisdom takes delight, the 
being for whom Christ died. To him fatherless 
futureless humanity is a more proper object of a 
Religion than the Lord God Almighty. 

This spectacle of mind and of the way in which 
mind may play is one on which I never muse with- 
out being irresistibly reminded of that ingenious 
Hibernian, — ^his name, alas ! gone with that of the 
unremembered men of parts, — who bravely argued 
thus : "I don*t see why people should make so much 
of the Sun. Now, isn't the Moon of more conse- 
quence ? for sure the Sun is never up but in the 
daytime." 

The Positivists might long ago have given up the 
hope of Mr. Spencer as a Comtist. He has firm hold 
of principles irreconcilable with the fundamental 
narrowness of the system. His intellect has not the 
"necessary" affinity with its congenital eccentricity. 
Nevertheless it was not by any means the most 
visionary of Mr. Harrison's hopes, if he did think it 
possible that Agnosticism, the verbally negative side 
of the Inaccessible, and Positivism,the verbally affirma- 
tive side of the Unknowable, while each starting on its 



THE RELIGION OF HUMANITy. 166 

own line might meet, and compounding their forces 
yield a resultant pushing in the right direction of 
re-organizing without God ! 

In the dark hopr before the dawn, I heard the 

North Wind say to the West Wind : " Brother, let us 

intkiDark '^^^^ together, for nothing can withstand 

Hour be/ore our united force. We will drive back the 

ike Dawn, ^approaching morn. We will teach the sons 

of Adam, prone over-much to magnify the light, that 

their true environment is air ; part and parcel of their 

own real world." So both of them did blow, and great 

was the sound and whirl. In the midst of this, quietly 

came the sunbeams, all the way down from heaven. 

They brightened the fields, they chased away night 

from around the sons of Adam, and entered into their 



WILLIAM ARTHUR'S WORKS. 

AUTHOR'S UNIFORM EDITIONS. 
In Crown Octavo, 



The First Volume is a New Work entitleil : — 

RELIGION WITHOUT GOD 

AND 

GOD WITHOUT RELIGION. 

I. — Positivism and Mr. Frederic Harrison. 

II. — Agnosticism and Mr. Herbert 'Spencer. 

[ /// prepa ration, 

III. — Deism and Sir Fiizjames Stephen. 

[ /« preparation. J 



Also 



THE TONGUE OF FIRE. 

\^Nearly ready \ 

thp: successful merchant. 

[/« the I^ress\^ 
Other Works will be announced shortly. 



5 / 



RELIGION WITHOUT GOD 



AND 



GOD WITHOUT RELIGION. 



BY 



WILLIAM ARTHUR, 

Author or ''thk tongue of fire," "a history of the Vatican council,' 

** ON THE UIFFKRESCE BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND MORAL LAW," ETC., ETC. 



II. 

AGNOSTICISM 



AND 



MR. HERBERT SPENCER 



iC0nb0n : 

hf:mrosr & SONS. 23, old HAILEV 

AND DERBY, 

1885. 

PBXCE FOUB SHILLINGS AND SIXPENCE. 



-s ^ 



AGNOSTICISM 



AND 



Mr. HERBERT SPENCER 




11. 

I 

AGNOSTICISM 

AND 

MR. HERBERT SPENCER. 



CHAPTER I. 
MB. SPENCER'S ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 

Page 

1. — THE ABBAT AFPABKHTLT FOBMIDABLB .169 

ran, 8PACB, BABTH, ICATTEB, MOTION, KIND, SELF . 170 

II. — WHAT FOBBZDB KNOWLEDGE OF SELF .173 

XNOWLBDOB DKOT.AEWD TO BE QX7XTE OCP06BIBLE 

AflSUlOSD 174 

8INOX7LAB 17BE OF TEBMB 174 

m.— IF IT WEBE TBXTE THAT ALL THIS IS X7NZN0WABLE . 175 

17. — WHAT IB ooNGxnmro a thino? 178 

V. — the FoemnsTS and xb. spbngeb ..... 180 

HIS FOBITION AS TO GAX78B 181 

HIS FABIXAUTT FOB OBIQINS 183 

HIS OONFOUNDINO PRENOXENON AND THING .184 

HIS POSITION AS TO LAWS 186 

ALL FHENOXENA SHOWS OF ONLY ONE BBALITY . 185 

VI. — THE ABSOLFTB X7NZN0WABLB 186 

THIS THE SOLE BKAL EXISTE^'CK .... 188 



xii CONTENTS. 



Vn.— THB FoemviBT, AONoeno, and ohbistian FoeamoNB bb- 

8FB0XI7BLT 189 

MB. sfbngsb's BSLIOION 191 

PBB80KAIJTT ASD INTKLLIOBNOB .... 192 

THB mSXT QXTBBnONB ...... 194 



CHAPTER II. 

WHAT SUFFICES ACCORDING TO MR. SPENCER TO 
PLACE A THING BEYOND THE LINE OF THE 

KNOWABLE. 

I. — THINGS ADMITTED TO BE BEAL HELD FOB UB KIIO W A BLB . 195 

MOTION AS AN UNKNOWABLE 196 

MOTION A CONNECTINa LINK BETWEEN MIND AND 

MATTEB 197 

OBIOINATINO AND AB8ISTINO MOTION . .199 

WHAT MOTIONS ABE AND WHAT ABE NOT CALCT7LABLB . 200 

MOTIONS THAT ABE KNOWABLE .... 202 

WHAT IF WE BEALLT DID NOT KNOW MOTION? . . 203 

II. — ^HIS OBOUND6 FOB HOLDINO MOTION AS UNKNOWABLE . 20d 

IS MOTION A THING, AN ATTBIBUTE, OB NOTHINO P . 206 

THE CASS OF MOVING CAPTAIN AND SHIP . 209 

THE CASE OF A CBBBBT IN A TBAIN 211 

IIXU8IVE IDEAS 213 

HE FB0VE8 THAT WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT WB SEE BT 

0X7B KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT WE DO NOT SEE 215 

m. — AMOTION IN OONNEOnON WITH MAa*rEB .... 217 

IV. — ^MOTION IN OONNBCnON WITH BBBT . . .218 

ILLUSION NOT KNOWLEDGE 222 

v.— BEEN BEABING WITNESS TO X7NSEEN .... 222 

VI. — 1BE GBOUNDS OF THE UNKNOWABLENB88 OF THB BABTH . 223 

HIS PIECE OF BOCK 225 

THE CASE OF THE TEBBBBTBIAL GLOBE . . . 227 

HAVE WE AN IDEA OF THE BABTH P .... 227 

IDEAS OF DUBATION AND MAGNITUDE . . . 228 



CONTENTS. xiii 



Pa£t 
Vli. — ^WBT BPACB AJXD TIXB ABB T7NKN0WABLB 230 

SAB BPAOB ATTBIBUTBB?' 230 

VUL — WHY XATTEB IB UNXNOWABLB 232 

TX. — ^WBT BELT IB UNKNOWABLB 233 

CAN BSLF BB BUBJBOT AND OBJBOT P . 233 



CHAPTER m. 

IN WHAT CONSISTS, AOCORDINa TO MR. SPENCER, 
KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT? 

I. — lA ALL BGDDfOB PBBVIBION f 237 

n. — ^WHAT IB TKB LBABT DBOBEB OF KNOWLBDOB ? . 238 

m. — MOID UNGLABBABLB AND TKBEEFOBB UNKNOWABLB . 240 

IV. — CBB TSSlQJjm NOT THB UNKNOWN .... 243 

IB CLA88INO THB ONLY WAT OF KNOWINOP . 244 

CABB OF THB PAOOnO AND ISLANDBBB . 246 

CASB OF TKB SUN— IB IT KNOWABLB P . . . 248 

y. — ^wkt spacb and timx abb unknowablb .251 

vi.~1b abiuit to fiotubb thb fobm thb only test of 

knowledobP 254 

KB. SFBNGBB DBFINB8 LIFE AND DBBOBIBBS KNOW- 

LBDQB in TKB BAXB TBBICB .... 258 

VIL — ^WKAT IB AN ADJUSTMENT P 260 

UFB INY0LYE8 POWEB OF 00NT1NU0U8 SELF-BEADJUST- 

BBNT 262 

ILLUSTBATION OF A LOOK 263 

Yin.— XNOWINO BY SIQHT AND KNOWING BY KIND , , .266 



xiv CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

IS NOT ALL OUR KNOWLEDGE PARTDOi, AND YET 

REAL? 

L — TBB POSITION THi^T *< NOTHINO GAIT BB XNOWK OF 

THB BXTBSTANOE OF lOND " 272 

DOBS ▲ SUB8TANGB '^UNDEBUB'* OB OONBTITUTB 

ITS POBnONSP 273 

IL — ^ADICITS THAT WB CAN KNOW '' STATES " OF KIND . 274 

ABSOLXTTB lONOBANCB OF KIND AND ICATTBB . 276 

III. — XB. spbnoeb's oasbb of ooxpletb xnowlbdob . . 278 
OUB knowlbdob nbithbb absolutb knowlbdob 

NOB absolute iqnobanob .... 280 

rV. — KNOWING WHAT PASSES KNOWI.BDOB .... 282 

v.— IS KNOWLEDGE BBAL OB ILLUSIVE P .... 283 

BEALETT OF KNOWLEDGE IN ANHCALB . 285 

ANIKALS CAN AOQUIBE KNOWLEDGE . 286 

OX AND ASS 289 

WHY IS NOT A HOBSE EDUOABLE F . . 290 

<< PASSIVE BECEPTIVITY" AND TBAN8F0BXING POWEB 291 

VI. — HUXAN KNOWLEDGE BBAL 293 

VII. — KNOWLEDGE BT INSTINGT, BT CONSCIOUSNESS, BT SENSE, 

BT INTUITION, BT SCIENCE, BY TESTIMONY 294 
EFFECT OF CONFOUNDING PABTIAL KNOWLEDGE WITH 

NESCIENCB 303 

VIII. — ^EFFECT ON CHBISTIAN KINDS OF PABTIAL KNOWLEDGE . 304 

MB. 8PENCBB, IN FACT, 00BB0B0BATE8 THIS 307 

IX. — HIS "UNASCEBTAINED SOMETHING " .... 308 

THE OONTBAST BETWEEN AGNOBHO AND CHBISTIAN 

HOPBB 309 

KB. spencer's doctbinb of intelligenoe . .311 



CONTENTS, XV 



CHAPTER V. 

MR. SFENOEB'S DOCTRINB OF ILLUSION AND 

PHENOMENA. 

I. — lA A THDVO IDBZinaAL WITH ITS OWN AFFBABAN0B8 P 313 

THOraS WHICH DO NOT AFPBAB .... 314 

AFPBA1UNCB8 IfANIFBSTATIONS OF A fiODT TO ▲ KIND 315 
00NTBA8TB BETWEEN THIS AND A 1CANIFB8TATI0N OF 

KIND 317 

II.—ASB PHBNOXENA DISGUISES P 320 

MB. SPBNOBB^S SCHBICB OF THE SCIENCES . . 323 

ILL UBIVKNE SS OF AFPEABANCES 324 

m. — ^AFPEABANCES BEVEAL, DO NOT DISOUISB . 329 

OBIBNTAL pantheist's VIEW 331 

SCIENCE DEPENDENT ON THE TBUTHFULNESS OF 

AFPEABANCES 334 

8PBN0EB*S UNIVEBSAL SUBSTANCE . 337 

IF AFPEABANCES DID DISGUISE BEALITIES . . 339 

IV.— A DECEPTIVE UNIVEBSE OB A VEBACI0U8 ONE . . 340 

A STBTBIC OF COlOnTNICATION PABT OF A TBUTHFUL 

WOBLD 341 

V. — THE SENSES OBOANS IN SUCH A SY8TE1C .... 343 

THEIB VEBACITT 843 

INOOXPLETENESS OF EACH 345 

THEIB TWOFOLD ASPECT 347 

XEDIUX BETWEEN OBJECT AND OBOAN 348 

DO THET EVOLVE ONE ANOTHEBP .... 350 

WHAT IB AN OBOAN P 351 

00NVEB8I0N OF HCPBESSIONS INTO THOUGHT 354 

POWSB OF XIND TO DIMINISH LABOUB WHILE IN- 

CBEASING WOBK 354 

WHAT THE EXISTENCE OF AN OBOAN INVOLVES . . 358 

MOTION AND THOUGHT 360 

COMMON BBLATION OF OBOANS AND AFPEABANCBS . 362 

18 OON8CXOU8NE08 HtLUSIVsP , « , , , 364 



xvi COl^TEl^TS. 



CHAPTER VI. 

MB. SPENGEB ON NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 

I. — ^irO SBLF-BBIBBiaKINO FOWBS 367 

OONSdOUBNESS ILLUBIVB 369 

n. — ^XOnVBB AND XOnVB-POWBB 36tf 

DONKBT AND DONKET-CABT 373 

HA8TT OENBSAUZATION 374 

III. — IF LAW IN THOUQHT, NO FBEB WILL .... 375 

STATES OF KIND DO OONFOBX TO LAW AND DO NOT . 378 

MAT NOT UBEBTY BB OBDBBP .... 380 
SELF-DBTBBMININO POWEB ITBXLF LAW .381 

IV.—SLIOKT DIF7BBKN0B BETWBEN YOLUNTABY ACTION AND 

INYOLUNTABT XOYBXENT 382 

THB AONOSnO OBIQIN AND NATUBB OF WILL • . 384 

v. — AONoeno tebw of what is fbbbdox of will . . 387 

IS FBEEDOX of WILL LIBBBTT NOT TO DESIBE ? . . 389 

FBBKDOX NOT TO DO WHAT WE DESIBE . . 391 

HATE WE OB NOT THE POWEB TO BBBAK LAW P . 392 

CAN A DBBIBB BE OVEBBIDDEN P .... 393 

VI. — ^WILL OHEOKINO DESIBE AND INITIATINO NEW HABITS . 394 

AFPBABANOES DECEIVE WHEN THET MANIFEST FBSBDOX! 397 

VII. — CONSCIENCE, TASTE, JXTDOMB^TT, THB CEN80BS OF DESIBE . 399 

FBOSPBCITVE POWEB OF WILL ..... 400 
8HAXBSPBABB ON DIVINE THBUSTINO, BTC. .401 

STATES PBEBUPPOSE SUBSTANCES .... 403 

THINOS NOT CONSTITUTED OF THEIB OWN STATES . 406 

HOW TO CHANGE STATES OF MIND .... 406 

VIIL — AQNOenCIBM divests man of ant PBOPBB INTELLiaSNOBy 

WILL, OB PEBSONALITT 407 

REVELATION BEC0QNIZE8 AND DIGNIFIES WILL . .410 



CONTENTS. xvii 



CHAPTER Vn. 

SPENCER'S VIEW OF THE ORIGIN OF THE 

UNIVERSE. 

Page 
I. — THBSB K)88IBLB THB0BIB8 413 



ATUKIHT THBOBT ....... 414 

HIS BXPLT 414 

GAK WB OOVGSIVB OF INFINITB PABT TDCB F . 417 

CAK WB OONCSrVE A LUCIT TO PAST TIME? . 418 

CAN WB CONCEIVE A LIMIT TO FUTURE DUBATIONF . 420 

II.~TBINQ6 FINITB AND DEPENDENT CANNOT BE ETEBNAL 421 

DBPBNDENCB OF THINGS FINITB .... 423 

BBINO FBBCBFTIBLE IMP068IBLB WITHOUT AN 0B8BBVEB 425 

III. — KOnOH NOT SELF-EZIBTENT 426 

rV. — TBB SUPPOSITION OF SELF-CBBATION, CALLED PANTHEISTIC 429 

POTBNTLAL AND ACTUAL EXISTENCE .... 430 

v.— OBBATION BY BXTBBNAL AOENCT, GALLED THE THBI8TIC 

THBOBT 431 

THB CABINBT-XAXBB 433 

GBBATION BT COMMAND 434 

OONCBPnON AND PBODUCTION 435 

VT. — IBB UNIVBBS B ASSUMED TO COITOIST OF MA1TBB . 437 

FBODUOnOB OUT OF NOTHINO, OB PBODUCTION BT 

NOTHINa 438 

OOBCBFTIOir AND PBODUCTION 439 

VII. — ^AH ASSUMPTION OF SBLF-BZI8TBNCE NBCB8SABT SOMBWHBBB 440 

8UPP06B UNIVBBSAL N0N-BXI8TBNCB .... 442 

YJJJL. — THBSB OTHBB THBOBIBS 444 

MDTD AND MATTBB, WHICH AUTHOB OF THE OTHBB? . 445 

MDTD AND MATTBB CONTRASTED 446 

MATTBB NOT B¥IL BUT GOOD 448 

MATTBB AND THB INTEBSPACE8 ..... 452 

MIND AND THB INTBBSPAGBS 452 

MOTION IN FEEUNQ 461 

BA8IBB TO THINK THAT ALL IS MIND THAN THAT ALL 

IS MATTBB 464 



XVlll 



CO INTENTS. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
MR. SPENCER'S REPLACEMEKT OF GOD. 



I. — THE UANNEB OF BEPLACEHENT 

lasooNOBpnoN of his position 

NO BEPENTANCB IN ICB. SPENCEB 

HE BBFBE8BNT8 DIVINE ATTBIBUTES AS HUMAN 

II. — HIS BELATION TO PANTHSISIC 
LOWEB THAN PANTHEI81C 

III. —THE NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE ASPECTS OF THE UNKNOWABLE 
IS WHAT TBANSCEND6 SENSE SUPEBNATUBAL ? 
VISIBLE EKFECl'S OF INVISIBLE CAUSES 

IV. — POSITIVE ASPECT OF THE UNKNOWABLE 

CONFUSION OF NEGATIONS AND AFFIBMATIONS 
ATTBIBUTE8 OF THE UKKNOWABLE 
MB. SP£NCEB*8 METHOD OF MAKING THINGS 
PHBASE WBIITEN AND EBASED 

v.— A SEUr-EVOLVED UNIVEB8E, THE AON08TIO IDEA 
WHO GIVES HATTEB, FOBCE> AND MOTION? 

VI. — BELATIONB OF POSITIVISM, PANTHEISM, AND AGNOSTICISM 

HOW THE THBEB SYSTEMS BESPEGTIVBLT UNIFY NATUB£ 

AGBEEMENT OF THE THBEE SYSTEMS IN EQUALIZINQ 
BIGHT AND WBONG .... 



HAPPY INCONSISTENCY IN PANTHEISM 
EUBOPEAN PANTHEISM 



BASIS FOB M0BAL6 OFFEBED BY 
AGNOSTICISM 



posmviSM 



VII. — BBLATION OF PANTHEISM TO ATHEISM 
LOGICAL BBSULT OF AONOSTIdBM 

VIII. — ^AFFIBMATIONS OF AGNOSTICISM 
CONFESSED GEBTAINTEBS 
A HIGHEB CTAN A PEB80N 



(( 



MOBAL DELIVEBANCB OF 00NB0IGUSNEB8 



>i 



GOD NEITHKB BLPLACED NOB DISPLACED 



AND 



Pmgt 
470 

471 

472 

472 

475 
477 

478 
480 
482 

484 
486 
486 
488 
490 

493 
495 

496 
498 

499 
500 
601 

oOl 

602 
605 
606 
606 
608 
609 
olO 



CONTENTS, xix 



CHAPTER IX. 

MR SPENCER'S SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 

Page 

I. — BBLIOION OOITFESSED TO BE X2n>B8TBUOnBLE 512 

II. — VO U0I7E TO OOD IN AOKOSTIGISK .... 614 

TKSW OF CHRISTIAN NJSITUSB OPmCIflT NOK PB88I1CIBT 51 5 

n TREBE CONSCIOUS ACTION OF A BEINO P 517 
FBOFBXETT OF OBATITUDE AND VENBBATION DI8- 

nr.Annn 519 

HAS HAN XADB HIS DWELLINO-PI.A0E ? 519 

III. — NO FOUNDATION FOB LOYE TO ICAN .... 521 

HAB ICAN ANT KQffDBBD ABOVE HTlfBKT.F 'f 528 

AaNoenciBM lowebs oub beoabp fob ican . 525 

8BBVICE8 TO XANKIND DO NOT XEBIT THANES ! . 526 

IV.^-COXXANDB TO PBAISB A BEA80N FOB OONTBXNINO OOD 631 
ABSENCE OF LOVE AND FBAISE A DEDUCTION FBOX 

HAFPINEB8 532 

v.— CONFESSED ABSENCE OF XOBAL FO'WEB .... 633 

VI. — THE BEHNANT OF BEUOION 635 

TH. — ^FINAL BESULT8 OF POeiTiVUUC AND AQNOSTIdSlC . 542 



AGNOSTICISM. 



CHAPTER I. 

MR. spencer's array OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 

I. — Tfu Array Apparently Formidable, 

It is a somewhat animated chase when we set out 
to learn what the things are which Mr. Herbert 
Spencer declares to be Unknowable. They are soon 
found to be so numerous, and in some cases they are 
so unexpected, that we early begin to surmise either 
tnat the world has hitherto misunderstood the meaning 
of knowledge, or that some objects may have been 
admitted by Mr. Spencer to the class of unknowables 
without satisfactory evidence. 

Mr. Spencer's array of objects not knowable might 
at first sight seem appalling. Indeed many excellent 
people have shown great concern because, among 
other things comprised in it, a foremost place is given 
to diplomatic substitutes for the name of the Creator. 
On the other hand, many have displayed a triumphant 
hope that the day of " theology," — the new, stealthy 

N 



170 AGNOSTICISM. 



name for faith in God, — was near its close, seeing it 
was scarcely possible for people to continue to believe 
in His existence, after a great philosopher like Mr. 
Herbert Spencer had pronounced any Personal God to 
be unknowable. Considering, however, the number 
of things which on the same authority are set down as 
unknowable, perhaps those very persons would not 
warmly welcome the state of affairs which would result 
from a total loss of faith in the existence of them all. 
What that state of affairs would be, you may in some 
small part conjecture, if you set out in one line the 
names of those objects which, according to this great 
philosopher, are unknowable in common with the 
Creator of the world. 

Time is unknowable. Space is unknowable, the 

Earth is unknowable, Matter is unknowable. Mind 

Time, Space, is unknowable. Force is unknowable, 

^nT^'^^^'^J Motiofi IS unknowable, and even Self, 

Motion, Mind, -^ ' 

Self. your own personality, is unknowable. 

Probably I shall, to some, appear in naming such 
farniliar objects like one who speaks lightly. Therefore 
Mr. Spencer's own expressions shall be given. As to 
Space and Time, his view is that the immediate know- 
ledge of them which we seem to have proves, when 
examined, to be ** total ignorance."' Respecting the 
Earth he says that " we habitually speak as though 
we had an idea of it" As to Matter he believes that 



' First Prin,, § 1 5. 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 



171 



form what suppositions we may as to its ultimate 
nature, those suppositions "leave us nothing but a 
choice between opposite absurdities."' More than 
that, he says that " could we succeed in decomposing 
matter into those ultimate homogeneous units of 
which it is not improbably composed . . . the 
ultimate unit must remain absolutely unknown."^ 
Place in unlimited space, he declares to be " incon- 
ceivable." Of Motion, the following is his judgment : 
** Neither when considered in connection with Space, 
nor when considered in connection with Matter, 
nor when considered in connection with Rest, do 
we find that Motion is truly cognizable. All efforts 
to understand its essential nature do but bring us 
to alternative impossibilities of thought *'3 These 
instances might suffice, but I shall add to them Mr. 
Spencer's words on the question of our knowing or 
not knowing our own personality : " The personality 
of which each is conscious, and of which the existence 
is to each a fact beyond all others the most certain, 
is yet a thing which cannot be truly known at all : 
knowledge of it is forbidden by the very nature of 
thought"^ 

In practical life we find that many things which are 
really unknowable, seeing that they do not exist, are 
notwithstanding conceivable. Take as instances a 



• First Prin.y § i6. 
^ First Prin., § 17. 



- Principles of Psychology^ § 62. 
* First Prin., § 20. 

N 2 



172 AGNOSTICISM. 



phoenix or perpetual motion. But Mr. Spencer 
ranks not a few things as more than unknowable, 
as inconceivable ; which things are to most men 
perfectly conceivable, and even knowable. Of these 
inconceivables some are confessedly things which have 
an existence. Perhaps most of us would be slow to 
admit that anything which undoubtedly exists is to 
be held as unknowable in an absolute sense. None of 
us pretends that he knows or can know the exact state 
of things at the centre of the earth. Yet we can con- 
ceive of that state. One thing we do perfectly know, 
— that some state of things must exist there. In 
addition to this we know some states which cannot 
exist, and some which might. And if we do not 
know the rest, we can conceive of it ; with the 
possibility, it is true, of being wrong, but also with 
the possibility of being right. 

Some of Mr. Spencer's dicta are as follows: "Un- 
limited duration is inconceivable." Absolute motion 
"cannot be imagined, much less known." The 
solar system is "an utterly inconceivable object"' 
As to the universe, "we cannot form any idea of 
the potential existence of the universe."^ Of rest 
and motion we learn that, " it is impossible 
to conceive Rest becoming Motion or Motion 
becoming Rest."^ 

* First Prin,, § 9. ' First Prin., § II. 

3 First Prin^ § 19. 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 173 



II. — What Forbids Knowledge of Self. 

One of the expressions above cited may be taken as 
the key to Mr. Spencer's method. Knowledge of our 
personality is forbidden by the very nature of thought. 
His design is to divide all truths whatever into two 
well defined classes ; " a positively unknown and a 
positively known." Of one class experience makes 
the inaccessibility certain^ of the other class the 
accessibility certain. The one class is reduced to perfect 
clearness^ the other to impenetrable mystery. Now the 
very first thing placed in the dark class is one to the 
heart's content of a Positivist, " We can never learn 
the nature of that which is manifested to us." The 
italics are Mr. Spencer's. Yet though we cannot know 
the nature of things, we are informed that it is 
the very nature of thought which forbids us to know 
our own personality. This is not a mere incidental 
or superficial inconsistency. So far is it from being 
so, that the very thing which is here formally marked 
as that which we never can learn, is the one which in 
his Classification of tlie Sciences (p. 7) Mr. Spencer even 
more formally marks as the object of study in the 
first of his great divisions of science, />., the Abstract 
Sciences : " The essential nature of some phenomenon 
is considered apart from the phenomena which 
disguise it"' 

' First Pnn., § 35. 



174 AGNOSTICISM. 



Thus, then, the teacher who teaches that we can 

never learn the nature of anything, who teaches that 

KnmvUdge the nature of matter and of motion are 

ecaredtobe unknowable, who wonders at us for 

Quite Impossible ' 

Assunud, speaking of the earth "as though we 
had an idea of it,'* is, nevertheless, himself privately 
so well informed upon the very nature of thought 
that he can declare the decree that it forbids to us 
the knowledge of our own personality. 

In the mere phraseolog}' of the propositions quoted 
there are one or two little points which, in passing. 
Singular "^^^ ^ glanced at For instance, it is said 

Use of that motion in connection with rest is not 

^^^' truly cognizable, as it is also said not to 
be cognizable in connection with space and matter. 
I altogether agree that motion is not cognizable 
in connection with rest, but is always known as 
disconnected from it, as forming the antithesis to 
it. In connection with space and matter, on the 
contrary, it is knowable, and is known ; though not 
in connection with either one of them separated from 
the other. , Again, I perfectly concur in the proposi- 
tion that it is impossible to conceive rest becoming 
motion or motion rest. I could as easily conceive of 
silence becoming sound or sound silence. But what 
Mr. Spencer intends to say is a different matter. He 
intends to say that it is impossible for us to conceive 
of how a body at rest becomes a body in motion. 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 175 

III. — If it were True t/tat All This is Unknowable I 

On looking over even the enumeration of things 
unknowable given above, an enumeration that does 
not pretend to exhaust all the objects marked as such 
in the compass of Mr. Spencer's writings, the first 
reflection raised is, What a blank must the human mind 
be ! and what a maze the track of human progress ! If 
we are totally ignorant of Space, we are without any 
gauge of distance ; here is there, and there is here, and 
everywhere is nowhere. If we are totally ignorant 
of Time, day is night and night is day ; was is is, 
and is is was, and will be is both was and is ; 
momentary and long-continuing are undistin- 
guishable. So we might go on. But any one 
can do that for himself. Everyone, however, at the 
bare names of the things ranked as unknowable or 
inconceivable, will feel that if, in reality, they 
were all struck out of the column of knowledge, the 
amount left standing would scarcely be worth adding 
up. We do speak of the Earth as though we had an 
idea of it. Had we none, our voyage over it would 
be weary beating onward in the night by dead 
reckoning, without compass, chronometer, or star. 

No sooner, however, do we realize the condition to 
which mankind would be reduced were all- the things 
really unknown which by Mr. Spencer are called 
unknowable, than wc awake to the consciousness 



176 AGNOSTICISM. 



that he must employ language in private and tentative 
senses, not in the recognised senses proper to public 
teaching. This impression becomes stronger at every 
point in our advance. Not only in descriptions, not 
only in those incidental definitions which often 
indicate more finely than the formal ones the real 
lines of a thinker's thought, but also in the most 
studied ex cathedrd definitions possible; we find a royal 
contempt of the old rule : The unwonted is obscure. 
Therefore, plain, to ordinary men, as are words like 
know and do not know, knowable and unknowable, 
conceivable and inconceivable, it becomes manifest 
that in Mr. Spencer's pages their sense is unwonted, 
therefore, obscure ; it is even inconstant, and such 
terms cannot be received at the values for which they 
pass current in the established commerce of mind. 

The enthusiasts of unbelief who are ready to sup- 
pose that because Mr. Spencer has declared God to be 
unknowable, inconceivable, and so forth, believers in 
His existence must change their mind, might perhaps 
pause, at least for a moment. If Christians are to say : 
The Living God cannot be a real being since Mr. 
Spencer declares that He is unknowable and incon- 
ceivable ; must not unbelievers say. Space cannot be a 
real thing, for it is equally declared to be unknowable ; 
no more can Time be a real thing ; nor yet Motion, or 
Force; nay, not Matter, or even my own Personality? 
Mr. Spencer's declaration that each one of these is 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 177 

unknowable, is as strong as that the Living God is so. 
On the other hand, every man knows that each one 
of these objects is real; he knows that to abstract 
them all from the universe would leave it without 
form and void ; he knows that a point really unknow- 
able is what existence would be were any one of 
those things absent. This knowledge is so deeply 
based in nature, so well tested by every possible 
strain, that not in the case of any one of the 
•'unknowables" or "inconceivables" mentioned, does 
the fact that Mr. Spencer says we cannot know it 
change in the least degree the conviction of any 
person as to the reality of its existence. 

It does not change his own. He fully believes in 
the actual existence of many things which he calls 
unknowable ; yes, even of things which he affirms we 
cannot form a conception of. He is as fully convinced 
of the real existence of space and time, of matter and 
force, of mind and motion, of earth and the solar system, 
as if he had never said a word about their being un- 
knowable or inconceivable. He knows that he knows 
them, and shows it in every page he writes. Not with 
a knowledge, indeed, according to his wonderful defi- 
nitions and theories as to what knowing consists in, 
but according to what far better indicates his real 
habits of thought and feeling, namely, his ordinary 
mental process in respect of these and of other things, 
which process he cannot write without disclosing. 



178 AGNOSTICISM, 



If Time and Space were really not things, but 
only forms, — whether forms of thought as Kant has it, 
or forms of things as Spencer has it, — I should, in that 
case, probably go with Spencer and not with Kant 
But nature will not let one go with either. Thoughts, 
whether those of Kant or your own, did not make 
either Time or Space. Both of them existed before 
ever the thought of Man said either I am, I was, or I 
shall be ; before ever it said I am lure^ and thou art 
there. Things did not make Time and Space. Before 
the hills, before the sun, they were ; the birthday of 
each separate world was a point in time, its birthplace 
was a point in space. These two arenas of the uni- 
verse are things but not body, things but not mind, 
things but not spirit Space is the arena for bodies, 
forces, and motions. Time is the arena for events, in- 
cluding all thoughts, plans, deeds, and records ; all play 
of forces, birth of bodies, sweep of motions, and every 
phase of change. 

IV. — What is Conceiving a Thing ? 

Telling me that I cannot conceive great powers 
of nature — powers that are a thousand times mightier 
than I — seems to me altogether gratuitous. But if it 
is meant that I cannot conceive of ^tm^ one is not to be 
told that. We can conceive of them. When the ideas 
are put into unmistakable language, and it is said that 
we cannot form any conception of things ; then the 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 179 

saying betrays its utter inaccuracy. You set upon 
the phrase "forming a conception of" a thing a 
private meaning, as if it had mixed itself up in the 
mind with the phrase "conceive it/^ till the mixture 
resulted in mere confusion. Sir William Hamilton's 
expression about thinking a thing, and not thinking 
it, has been the source of much luminous mist. The 
only thing Sir William ever did think was his own 
thoughts. In doing that he did what few are capable 
of doing. But he never thought things, much as he 
talked of doing it. He never thought either bread or 
butter, either quantification or predicate. He thought 
of them. To speak of thinking a thing as if it were a 
thought, is a mode of expression that must bring in 
cognate obliquity of phrase in related matters. So, 
speaking in one and the same discussion of conceiv- 
ing a thing and conceiving of it as if they were 
synonymous, imports into what ought to be very 
definite language extreme vagueness, which becomes 
worse and worse when at the same time a conception 
of a thing is taken to be equivalent to a detailed 
knowledge of its features, such as will enable you to 
make of it in your mind a full-length picture. 

But all this is necessary to Mr. Spencer's method 
of proving that God is not a Knowable being, not 
One to whom we can ascribe attributes : for if He is 
not One whom we can class, not One of whom we can 
delineate in our minds a full image, necessarily He is 



180 AGNOSTICISM, 



not on Agnostic principles One of whom we can form 
any conception, or to whom we can attribute personal 
qualities or the actions of an intelligent agent 

V. — The Positivists afid Mr. Speficer. 

The Positivists would naturally look upon the posi- 
tion that God was unknowable as one chosen by an 
adroit scholar of the master who had taught people not 
to deny as well as not to affirm. After all, saying 
Unknowable seemed less risky than saying, a mere 
chimsera ; which was both affirming and denying in 
one ; was, in fact, doing the two things of which you 
were not to do either. They claimed Mr. Spencer as 
a co-disciple. They even now affirm that his leading 
ideas are all borrowed from Comte. 

To this Mr. Spencer has replied effectually, not 
only disclaiming discipleship, but alleging grounds of 
dissent from Comte's philosophy and polity, and show- 
ing how much the Positivists erred in taking, as 
traces of Comte, things which they had themselves, 
indeed, learned from him, but which he had learned 
from sources common to all searchers. All this Mr. 
Spencer did in a manner which perfectly conciliated 
self respect with respect for others. ' He let it appear 
as Mill had done, as Miss Martineau, and, more 

^ Reasons for Dissenting from the Philosophy of M. Comte, ap- 
pended to Classificatum of the Sciences, 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 181 



candidly still, Littr6 did, that the great attraction of 
Comte had been "theological" rather than intellectual. 
He is astonished that any one acquainted with his 
writings "should suppose I have any general 
sympathy with M. Comte, save that implied by 
preferring proved facts to superstitions^' The italics 
are mine. But if Comte on the one hand was set 
high because of his adroit manner of turning science 
and even history against revealed religion, on the other 
hand philosophic writers who followed his methods 
and praised his thinking were reckoned as followers 
without note being taken of the exact line at which 
their reason rescued them out of his train. Littrd 
had rather earnestly to say that his chief point ot 
attachment to Comte was on the ground of his 
firm exclusion of "theological** views. Mr. Spencer's 
s>Tnpathy with Comte was evidently grounded on 
the same characteristic ; but his dissent commenced 
at an earlier stage. 

Mr. Spencer's most striking mark of separation 
from Positivism lies in the position — "The conscious- 
ness of Cause can be abolished only by abolishing 
t^ consciousness itself."^ In laying down this 
^ ^ principle, he was well aware that wherever it 
Cauu. should be applied, it would spring the key- 
stone of M. Comte's arch. He smiled at the three pre- 
tended systems of philosophizing, contending that there 

' Ciassificaiion of the Sciences^ p. 36. 



182 AGNOSTICISM. 



was only one. The portentous law of the Three Stages 
he treated with no respect at all. Still, his intended 
denial of it is curiously ill-aimed. Instead of saying, 
as he set out to do, that our conceptions and the 
different branches of our knowledge do not pass 
through the three alleged stages or any similar ones, 
what he says is : "The progress of our conceptions, and 
of each branch of knowledge, is from beginning to 
end intrinsically alike." Their progress might be from 
beginning to end intrinsically alike, and yet be exactly 
what Comte asserts. 

It is obvious that in taking the position above cited 
on the question of Causes, Mr. Spencer trod under 
foot the Positivist restriction on enquiry. Once 
started on the interrogation of nature as to the cause 
of this event, and then of the next, we are not to 
be stopped at one point in the chain more than at 
another. The inevitable result is that, if we do not 
stop ourselves, we are led up and up till we stand at 
that terminal point where all the Whys end and all 
the Becauses begin. That is, we are set in presence 
of the First Cause. That this might never be, the 
Positivists have fulminated their Don't Ask. Mr, 
Spencer is not disciple enough of the Vatican to 
follow them in that Whatever else you may say of 
his teaching, you will not have to say that the master 
bars the scholars out He was not brought up among 
traditions according to which one man is to rule over 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 183 



the why and because of all other men ; and hence the 
claim to set a fence around all investigation of causes 
and origins, calling upon mankind evermore to take 
the word of command from the High Priest of 
Humanity, would to him probably seem as ridiculous, 
viewed by the light of reason, as it would seem im- 
practicable, viewed in the light of every-day life. 

So far from shrinking from the study of origins, 

even though the risk of being compelled to confess 

to a personal God would, at times, appear to be 

Bis looming upon Mr. Spencer, he seems to 

Partiality , •. r • • tt • *. 

j^ ^ have a propensity for origins. He is great 
Origins, upon origins. Few pieces of reading would 
be more entertaining than his exercises in mindmaking, 
in worldmaking, in eyemaking, in earmaking, in 
mouthmaking, and in constituting things in general 
out of their own properties, out of their own opera- 
tions, out of their own relations, yea, verily, even out of 
their own appearances, except for the drawback that 
those exercises do not pass for mental gymnastics, 
but for the construction of solid works. As it was the 
art of Comte to divorce phenomena from cause and 
events from origfin ; so is it the foible — for in him it 
does not wear the appearance of art — of Mr. Spencer 
to divorce origin from originator and cause from will 
and intention. 

In pursuit of this plan he often concurs with the 
Positivist treatment of phenomena ; yet often diverges 



184 AGNOSTICISM, 



from it With them he confounds things with phe- 
nomena; habitually speaking as if, because a phenome- 
-^w non is a thing, a thing is therefore only a 
PJumnien^ phenomenon. That is to say, because a 
and Thing, shadow is a thing, the thing shadowed, 
whether man, cow, or fingerpost, is only a shadow. 
But this fault is not confined to Agnostics and 
Positivists. From being an innocent and natural 
laxity of popular language, it has among large classes 
oozed through into the very structure of reasoning, 
ossifying it wherever it comes. Habits and con- 
ception moulded by this sophism cast deep shadows, 
not those of the morning which rapidly decline, but 
the shadows of the evening which do not decline, 
which lengthen and broaden till they cover all. Those 
shadows are already tolerably deep around a man 
before he can take an appearance as equivalent to 
the thing which makes its appearance; and, in conse- 
quence, takes a thing as if it were only its own 
appearance, or, more grotesque still, "constituted of" 
its own appearances. In confounding things with 
phenomena, Mr. Spencer, like the Positivists, only 
follows the flock. 

Mr. Spencer in the late controversy is under the im- 
pression that the Positivists ignore all that is implied by 
a phenomenon. In his earlier Reasons for Dissenting, 
he more accurately stated the case, saying : That the 
essential principle of their philosophy is an avowed 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 185 



ignoring of Cause altogether. Law, however, they 

admit ; and practically Mr. Spencer follows them in 

His excluding from the view taken of law any 

Position jjgj^ Qf different orders of laws for coordi- 

as to 

Laws, nation as between different orders of agents ; 
and in thus lowering the conception of all law to that 
of the inviolable rule of procedure for inanimate agents, 
thereby levelling man as an individual, and society as 
an aggregate of men, down to the adamant of invari- 
able order, which necessarily presupposes inviolable 
laws. For if there exists in nature any class of agents, 
who may, in a given case, either break law or keep it. 
thenisorder not invariable ; then for that class of agents, 
to whom law is the living law of liberty, and not stone 
dead rule, disorder may arise. But it will be worth 
while further on to devote a short chapter to Mr. 
Spencer's doctrine of law, free will, and necessity. 

The striking point for our present survey is that, 

while the Positivist allows not of any inquiry into a 

phenomenon beyond what he calls its laws, and pro- 

Aii nounces all questions as to cause and origin 

^^^^^ steps towards the inaccessible — thus barring 

Only One Up even the way to a First Cause — Mr. 

Reaiiiy, Spencer holds that all phenomena are but 
the show of one sole underlying reality, which reality, 
to state his position plainly, they do not reveal, but 
disguise. What he intends is not that each separate 
appearance has behind it a separate substance, which 

O 



186 AGNOSTICISM, 



makes the appearance and is in part revealed by 
it. Far from it. He deliberately describes the 
phenomena as disguising the phenomenon,' which 
language may, perhaps, in itself appear to be some 
slight punishment for the habit of treating all things 
as mere appearances. But the illustrations of these 
peculiarities must at present be reserved, our point 
being that, in Mr. Spencer's view, all phenomena 
are firstly mere shows, secondly disguises, and 
thirdly manifestations of one all-pervading, all-present, 
all-operating reality. You may tell me that the terms 
"mere show," "disguise," and "manifestation" are 
incompatible. I do not wait to do more at present 
than to say. They are Mr. Spencer's terms correctly 
gathered, as will subsequently appear. 

VI, — Tke Absolute Unknowable, 

This all-present and all-operating reality is, then, 
among a multitude of Unknowables, the Absolute Un- 
knowable — yea, inconceivable as well as unknowable. 
Still, nothing is further from the truth than the idea 
that Mr. Spencer here means something unreal, some- 
thing non-existent. On the contrary, it is the world, 
it is we men and women, it is the clay, and the wind, 
the ships, and the pounds, shillings, and pence, all of 
us together, poor things, classed as phenomena that 

* Classification of the Sciences ^ p. 7. 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE, 187 

are unreal. His Unknowable is, he holds, not nega- 
tive, but positive. It is an Energy ; it is a Power ; it 
is Infinite ; it is Eternal; yea, it is the Infinite and 
Eternal energy from which all things proceed. It is 
one, one everywhere and in all time, one within us and 
without us ; one in matter and in mind. " The Power 
manifested throughout the Universe distinguished as 
material is the same power which in ourselves wells up 
under the form of consciousness." ^ That is, material 
things and mental powers are both and equally the 
one power manifesting itself. I hesitated about say- 
ing, Manifesting itself ; but why should I ? for " Mani- 
fested " is Mr. Spencer's word. The Power, then, is 
" manifested " in matter ; it " wells up " in our minds. 
Yet after welling up, it is all underground ; after being 
manifested, it is absolutely unknown ; yea, absolutely 
unknowable ! Yet notwithstanding that fact, ** the 
relation it bears to us and the universe " lies so well 
within the private ken of Mr. Spencer that he is able 
formally to describe it as " the substratum at once of 
material and mental existence." 

Mr. Harrison, eager, if possible, to find a parallel for 
the unknowable of Positivist worship, an unknowable 
for the main part of it non-existing, had called Mr. 
Spencer's Unknowable the All-Nothingness. " So far," 
retorts Mr. Spencer, "from regarding that which tran- 
scends phenomena as the All-Nothingness, I regard it 

' NUuteenth Century^ No. 89, p. 5. 

O 2 



188 AGNOSTICISM. 



as the All-Being. Everywhere I have spoken of the 
Unknowable as the Ultimate Reality — the sole exist- 
ence : all things present to consciousness being but 
shows of it, Mr. Harrison entirely inverts our relative 
positions. As I understand the case, the * All-Nothing- 
ness' is that phenomenal existence in which M. Comte 
and his disciples profess to dwell."* Let it not be sup- 
posed that the intention here is to indicate the nothing- 
ness of two parts of the Positivist Goddess — the future 
portion of humanity, which is nothing, as having never 
come into existence ; and the past portion, which is 
nothing, as having gone out of existence. It is not 
this that is intended, but that all things what- 
soever are only mere shows, mere phenomena^ 
All-Nothingness. 

It is perfectly correct that Mr. Spencer never does, 
represent his own Somewhat as nothing, his substra- 

Thisthe ^""^ ^^ ^" empty abyss, his Power as a. 

Sole Rial chimaera, his Energy as a negation. Mr* 
Existence. Harrison, for reasons of his own, calls it a 
negation, and tries to justify this by logic of his own. 
That is his matter. He copies the reasoners who call 
a protest a mere negation, because it negatives the 
pretensions it resists, which it does by affirming and 
maintaining the rights invaded by such pretensions. A 
protest, like a rampart, has its inside and its outside. 
The inside affirms the position of one, the outside 



Nineteenth Century, No. 89, p. 6. 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 189 



denies that of another. The '* mere negation " is, in 
either case, an empty sound. Mr. Spencer is positive, 
very positive, in his view of the reality of his own 
Somewhat, and what is more, in its exclusive and 
all-comprising reality. So positive is he of it, that, as 
we have just seen, the world of phenomena is the All- 
Nothingness ; and as with him things are phenomena, 
and we who call ourselves persons are phenomena, 
therefore, we and they are portions of the All- 
Nothingness. 

VII. — T/ie Positivist^ Agnostic^ and Christian 

Positions Respectively. 

Positivism, to make man all in all, makes God a 

chimxra, a fiction. Agnosticism, to make an Ultimate 

Reality— an unknowable power — all in all, makes 

man and nature a mere show, an All-Nothingness. 

Christianity makes God all in all, and man a real being 

under God, with nature a real world around man and 

under God. It is in direct contradiction to Positivism 

in asserting the reality of God's existence, His 

supremacy, and His glory. It is in direct contradiction 

to Agnosticism in asserting the reality of human 

nature — body and soul, the reality of animal life and 

mind, the reality of bodies and the properties of 

bodies, the reality pf forces and motions ; the reality 

of one harmonious universe composed of all these 



190 AGNOSTICISM. 



and governed by God. It is further in direct contra- 
diction to Agnosticism in asserting the truthfulness of 
phenomena as a channel of manifestation, a channel 
by which real things, or objects, become known to 
a real observer, or subject, and that by a real and not 
by an illusive knowledge — real, yet only partial. It is 
in direct contradiction both to Positivism and Agnos- 
ticism in asserting that this universe, having different 
orders of creatures, is harmonized in different groups 
of relations, determined by different orders of laws : 
unconscious agents holding unconscious relations 
determined by inviolable rules ; conscious agents 
holding conscious relations determined by mental laws; 
moral agents holding moral relations determined by 
moral, that is to say, by true laws. True laws are 
precepts recognizing the possibility of two courses 
under the same circumstances, one right and the other 
wrong ; precepts, in fact, based upon that very 
possibility which is in itself the antithesis of all 
physical laws. The religion of Christ is a religion 
with a Living God, a living faith, a living worship, and 
a living moral code. Mr. Spencer presents us with 
what he regards as all that is to survive of religion — 
a sentiment ; a mere sentiment, a sense of the mystery 
of the universe, above all of the mystery of the 
Unknowable Reality. This is religion without a living 
being to worship, without a doctrine, without a moral 
lawgiver. Mr. Spencer formally rejects any imputation 



ARRAY OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 191 



of intending his religion to call us to worship, or to 
bring us either spiritual comforts or moral strength. 

His expectation of making this supplant Christianity 
is grounded on his being able to make it appear that 
Mr, spencef^^ God is not a Living Creator and Ruler 

ReH^ion. q{ men, but that all things are mere shows 
of one being, itself a stream, an energy, a power, 
a substratum, an anything, so long as you admit 
that it has not personality, or intelligence, or 
any of the attributes usually assigned to God. 
Yet he does not stand steady over these abysmal 
gulfs : in fact, he reels over them. When stating 
his position, that " duty requires us neither to 
affirm nor deny personality," he adds words which, 
from the point of view either of the frank Atheist or 
the Positivist, mark a long stage of retreat. Chris- 
tians, he intimates, " make the erroneous assumption 
that the choice is between personality and something 
lower than personality ; whereas the choice is rather 
between personality and something higher "» This 
utterance is of long standing, and is reissued in the 
recent controversy. Then we are to recognize in the 
ultimate cause of things a nature " higher " than what 
Christians understand by the nature of a personal 
God! If Mr. Spencer does not mean that, what can be 
said or thought of his words in such a connection ? 
Yet all the light he gives upon his own conceptions 

' First Frin.y {31. 



19-2 AGNOSTICISM, 



of what is understood by personality would lead to 
the conclusion that such conceptions are admirably in- 
correct as to what Christians understand by it, espe- 
cially when applied to God. Further, what he says of 
his own Unknowable Power sinks it below the level of 
personality in degrees which to a Christian appear 
immeasurable. 

Another striking expression has respect to his 
refusal to ascfibe intelligence to the Cause of things. 

Personalit " ^^ ^^ "^^ ^^^^ possible that there is a 
and mode of being as much transcending 

Intelligence, Intelligence and Will as these transcend 
mechanical motion?"' If by intelligence and will 
Mr. Spencer intends human intelligence and will, 
then he may possibly remember that, very long 
ago, the thoughts of man, when compared with those 
of God, were set down as being low as the earth is 
when compared with the heaven. " My thoughts are 
not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, 
saith the Lord. For as the heaven is higher than the 
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my 
thoughts than your thoughts. *'2 These words indicate 
the Christian conception of a personal and intelligent 
God. Human forms, measures, limits, processes are 
all left below on the ground. But the power of 
thinking, feeling, acting is not left below ; it rises up 
to infinite heights ; it expands in every direction till it 

' First Prin,^ \ 31. ' Isaiah Iv. 



AKA\4 Y OF THINGS UNKNOWABLE. 193 



fills the universe, and encloses it round about Mr. 
Spencer surely is not unaware that this is included 
in the Christian conception of God's personality 
and intelligence. Being aware of it, if he sets 
side by side with it his own hints of what, as 
to personality, he has to argue against, he must 
surely feel somewhat strange. If a French philosopher 
instructed his readers that the English are so eccentric 
in their ideas that they believe their streets to possess 
the attribute of locomotion, even going so far as to 
say that Oxford street runs from Bloomsbury to 
Tyburn, he would not have ground for piquing 
himself on the accuracy of his science. 

Comparing intelligence and will with higher 
thought and comparing them with mechanical 
motion are different things ; for mechanical motion, 
being simply compulsory change of place by a 
body forced to leave this spot and move to that, 
is not mind. By increasing such motion to 
practically infinite rapidity you would not engender 
intellects, but only dissipate bodies. A Being — " a 
mode of being " is not natural language for anything 
but a mode — ^a Being with powers of conceiving, 
discerning, foreknowing, designing, directing, origi- 
nating, changing, and undoing, higher than human 
power, higher than all limits, is the Christian's centre 
of thought, his glory ; the sun of his soul. But " a 
mode of being," destitute of these powers, instead of 



194 AGNOSTICISM. 



being higher than human intellect and will, would to 
him seem lower ; would seem what, indeed, might be 
called a mode of existence, but not a Power. 

Taking, then, the fact that Mr. Spencer holds to the 

reality of an infinite and eternal Somewhat, manifested 

The Next in all phenomena, together with the fact 

Questions. ^^^ j^g holds a great number of the most 

conspicuous phenomena to be unknowable, as well 
as the Reality which they all disguise, we feel 
at once that the import of unknowableness becomes 
the question on which depends the practical 
upshot of his teaching. We must, then, try to 
ascertain what it is which, according to him,, 
suffices to place a thing beyond the line of the know- 
able. If we have no idea of the Earth, what is it 
which bears it away out of the range of our ideas ? 
If we know not and cannot know our own personality,, 
what is it which spirits it off into the shades of the 
unknowable? If we are totally ignorant of space 
and time, what can that be which changes our oldest^ 
most familiar acquaintances into utter strangers, to 
whom we need not a fresh introduction, but actually 
a first one ? 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE. 196 



CHAPTER II. 

WHAT SUFFICES ACCORDING TO MR. SPENCER TO 
PLACE A THING BEYOND THE LINE OF THE 
KNOWABLE. 

l.^-Thifigs Admitted to be Real Held for Unknowable, 

It will be at once obvious, from what has been said 
in the preceding chapter, that when Mr. Spencer 
speaks of an object as being unknowable, he does not 
deny its existence. Neither does he mean that it lies 
beyond the range both of the senses and of legitimate 
inference. Nay, he does not even mean that it is 
rendered unknowable through being beyond the 
observation of the senses, and by coming only within 
the range of legitimate inference. He manifestly 
does mean that what is within the range of 
legitimate inference may be unknowable ; nay, more, 
that what is within the range of our senses may be 
unknowable. He even means that what is within our 
consciousness, that a thing of which we possess a 
certitude is, or may be, unknowable. These state- 
ments may seem paradoxical ; but only at first sight. 
Anyone who recalls the names of the objects already 



196 AGNOSTICISM. 



enumerated as unknowable, will see how literal and 
exact the statements are. 

Motion is one of the things unknowable, " not truly 
cognizable," not cognizable in connection with space, 
Motion as an not in connection with matter! Yet if 
Unkncwabie. there is in human experience one thing 
that comes within the range of direct observation, and 
of inference also in every imaginable degree, that 
thing is motion. The eye sees it, the ear hears it, the 
hand, the shin, the whole person feels it ; the 
reason traces its passage in effects which follow 
it and only it, traces it every hour of every day. 
Consciousness, also, speaks as distinctly as either 
sense or reason. We are conscious of moving 
and being moved ; conscious of motions within 
the frame cognizable only by our own mind ; 
conscious of motions passing to the limbs, and cogniz- 
able by others ; conscious of motions forcing the frame 
into impact against outer bodies, setting them in 
motion. What, then, is meant by telling us that 
things we see, things we trace by clear inference, 
things of which we are conscious, are to us not only 
unknown but also unknowable ? Mr. Spencer has a 
meaning which study easily collects ; but to that the 
only human answer is. Motion is not only knowable 
but known, and your puzzles come to little. 

It is quite true that motion is neither organic nor 
inorganic. It is quite true that it is not matter. It 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE, 197 

is quite true that it is not mind. It is quite true that, 
like force, its parent, it appears only as a messenger 
of interchange, of communication, bringing together 
things which else were always asunder ; adding to 
matter moved no atom, adding to mind that 
causes motion no attribute ; and yet constituting the 
index which more clearly than any other physical 
object marks off the different realms and character- 
istics of matter on the one hand and of mind on the 
other. 

One chief characteristic of matter which all acknow- 
ledge to be absolutely universal is what we call 

inertia. That means simply that matter 

Motion a Cott' 

tuctingLink when at rest cannot set itself in motion. 
Between Mind ^nd when in motion cannot bring itself 

and Matter. . , , . . , 

to rest; m other words, it can neither 
initiate motion nor stay it. Mind, on the con- 
trary, can initiate motion and also stay it ; it can 
make what is now a body at rest become a body in 
motion ; can accelerate its motion or retard it; can 
observe its motion and measure it ; can guide its 
motion and alter its direction ; can make it avoid col- 
lision with this substance and bring it into' collision 
with that one ; can even altogether arrest its motion. 
Further still, it can pre-arrange before the body is 
first started how swift or slow its motion is to be, and 
when and how it is to be arrested. And yet this very 
motion, which mind thus originates, directs, propor- 



198 AGNOSTICISM. 



tions, and ends, is what is to mind not truly cogniz- 
able ! The evidence to prove this ought to be con- 
clusive ; otherwise the allegation that other things are 
unknowable will not carry deep significance. 

Mr. Spencer in his First Principles presents us with 
interesting discussions on motion in relation to 
matter, on motion in relation to space, on motion in 
relation to rest; but motion in relation to intelligence 
and will escapes his notice. Yet he does not lose 
sight of the origin of motions. " Familiar with the 
fact from childhood, we see nothing remarkable in the 
ability of a moving thing to generate movement in 
a thing that is stationary."^ Why should we ? As the 
idea that a thing is remarkable generally includes the 
idea that it is unusual, there is in that sense nothing 
remarkable in the ability of a moving body to make 
another body move. If it could not do so, that would 
in ordinary life be very remarkable. Nevertheless the 
unseen somewhat, which one body imparts to another 
in the act of striking it, is no mean wonder. It is a 
somewhat which adds not to it and subtracts not from 
it, which leaves its constitution unchanged, and " yet 
enables it to traverse space." Ay, and in traversing 
space may endow it with a power of penetration 
marvellous to behold. That power of penetration is 
but another side of its power to generate movement ; 
and the difference between a piece of lead lying still, 

* First Prin., { 17. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOIVABLE. 199 



and the same piece of lead leaving the muzzle of a 
rifle, is a noble rebuke to that sophism which would 
say : It is only a piece of lead. It is not only a 
piece of lead. It is a piece of lead with an added 
momentum which may decide the fate of a critical 
day. Yet if we blotted out all the conclusions in 
modem philosophic writing which rest upon the 
sophism that such and such a thing, because by some 
general term it can be brought under the same class 
as another, is "no more" than that other, some asser- 
tions which at this moment greatly weigh with 
educated men would no longer weigh with them at all. 
If, then, the ability of a moving body to originate 
motion in a stationary one is wonderful, what shall 

Originating ^^ ^^Y ^^ ^^^ ability of a stationary body 
and Assist' to Originate motion in stationary bodies, 
^. otofi, ^^j ^j^^ ^^ accelerate and arrest it in mov- 
ing ones? This is an attribute never found in a 
stationary body, when mere body. A body that 
is at this moment at rest may at the command 
of mind slightly move, enough only to press a 
finger on a spring, or to utter a word. Yet that 
word may be transformed into an important play 
of forces : forces to be calculated by no physical rule, 
but solely by the intellectual power, the strength of 
will, or perhaps the authority of the person speaking. 
The simple word Forward, the simple word Fire! 
what mines of motion may they not explode! When 



200 AGNOSTICISM. 



once you have come out of the realm of body into 
that of will and proper law, the physical equivalence of 
an antecedent and a succeeding motion is one of the 
weakest of philosophic dreams. The corollary of the 
conservation of energy is the convertibility of force. 
The field on which this can be turned to account 
offers the grandest arena in physics for the ascen- 
dency of thought, forethought, and design to display 
itself 

The amount of motion which a moving body shall 

generate may be calculated by physical rules. Not so 

the amount of moti6n which an act of will 

Are and What ^^^^^ generate. That must be calculated. 
Are Not Col- as has been said, on the basis of intel- 
lectual force, strength of will, or au- 
thority. The Forward ! of one colonel will generate 
a mighty motion, and that of another a feeble one, 
in the same body of men. The word of one officer will 
make a whole army move, that of another of a dif- 
ferent rank only a single company. The chemist, 
the acoustician, or the physicist cannot detect any 
physical elements in the one word different from those 
in the other. The kinds of motion into which the 
motion of a lifeless body may transmute itself may be 
calculated. The kinds into which the movement of 
the hand or of the lips may be transmuted cannot be 
calculated. It depends, in part, on the mind and 
intention of the person who initiates and directs the 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE, 201 

motion of hand or lips, which two elements of initia- 
tion and direction are totally strange to the physical 
forces — ^forces which continue, but do not begin ; 
which combine, but do not direct. The kinds of 
movement into which it may be transmuted depend 
in part on the mind and will of the agents to whom 
the motion is directed. If these have no mind and 
will, you can calculate its effects by physical rule. If 
the station-master signals to an engine without any 
engineer, you can calculate what amount of motion 
will be generated by his motion : so much vibration 
of air. If the agents' are without mind and will» 
but have vegetable life, your calculation of effects, 
though approximately good, ceases to be of certitude. 
If they have animal mind and will, its effect depends 
on their temper, training, strength, and other matters 
special to themselves. If they have human mind and 
will, its effect depends on the same elements de- 
veloped on a vastly wider scale. Mind as a known 
source and ruler of motion is one of the phenomena 
that flash upon us at every phase of life. Very 
wonderful is it that philosophers, who spend much 
strength in trying to make thought and mind appear 
to be only molecular motions, have no time to spend on 
molecular motion, mechanical motion, animal motiop, 
v^etable motion — motions of solids, of liquids, of 
gases — as the undoubted work of thought and mind. 
Motion is unknown! it is not truly cognizable! the 

P 



202 AGNOSTICISM. 



attempt to understand the nature of it only leads to 
alternate impossibilities of thought ! I ought to say 
" essential" nature, as if that altered the case. Mr. 
Spencer knows its essential nature very fairly for one 
lost in "alternate impossibilities of thought," since he 
affirms " motion is change of place.'*' But although his 
private information enables him thus to enunciate what 
it is, just as it enables him to tell what the very nature 
of thought forbids or does not forbid, this does not 
alter the fact that, as to human minds in general, they 
must a.ccept his dictum that motion is one of the 
things not only unknown, but also unknowable. 

The processes of agriculture and horticulture are 
accumulations of proof that the nature and effects of 
Motions vegetable motion are known to man, and in 
that are large part guided by him. The whole 
KfunuabU. career of navigation from the catamaran 
to the ironclad is one accumulation of proofs 
that mechanical motion is known, initiated, 
checked, and, above all, directed by us. All land 
travel, from the walk to the palankeen, the stage 
coach, and the railway, is another accumulation 
of evidence to the same effect. The entire system 
of factories is yet another : if the nature of mechani- 
cal motion were not cognizable, Manchester and 
Lowell, Lyons and Belfast, would never have made 
cottons, silks, or linens. The telegraph wires running 



* First Prin., § 17. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE. 203 



over our ridges and under our seas are witnesses, to 
any but an Agnostic, that molecular motion is known, 
initiated, directed. The dread art of war is one deep- 
dyed record of man's knowledge of motion and power 
over it. It is hard to tell whether in it animal 
motions, chemical motions, or mechanical motions are 
most wonderfully brought to bear on the ends in 
view. So in the fine arts, the piano and the harp, the 
song and the oration, the picture and the statue, are 
all witnesses to our knowledge of motion. Putting 
all these together, and also other groups of facts 
which will occur to anyone, surely the experience of 
life certifies to all men that in respect of the know- 
ableness or unknowableness of motion, instead of 
halting between alternative impossibilities of thought, 
we march from impossibility to impossibility of 
achievement 

Could the fancy of Mr. Spencer be reduced to fact, 

and our race be awoke up next Monday morning 

What if We without any true knowledge of motion, 

KeaiiyDid what would be the condition of human 

Not Kfunv affairs by the end of the week? That 

. Qtum. Saturday's sun would set upon an Earth 

that could no longer be called part of a cosmos. 

The number of its inhabitants would be already 

greatly reduced, and such as were still alive would be 

plunged in mourning, lamentation, and woe. No one 

could loose the ox from the stall, or lead the horse 

P 2 



204 AGNOSTICISM. 



to the watering. No market wain could reach 
the market cross. No ploughman could g^ide either 
team or plough. The factory bell could not be 
rung. The bank coffers could not be opened. No 
clock could be wound up ; no steamer could leave the 
pier. The surgeon could not bind the wound, nor 
the druggist find the bottle. Ships would lie idle in 
the docks, and at sea the steersman could not guide 
the wheel, or the crew lay hands on the halliards. 
The school would be a place impossible ; the parade^ 
a hustling of fools. All motion would be disorder, 
and all disorder would be without repair. The end 
would be close at hand. 

It seems to me as if, in that world without a goal, 
one hears a sage cry to the sparrow, saying : " Thou 
canst find thy nest ; lead me to mine/* The sparrow 
replies : Tell me the way. "Ah," rejoins the sage» " if 
I knew how you ought to move, I should know how to 
move myself." It is the paralysis of an individual 
when he has to say, I have lost the power to move. 
It would be the paralysis of human nature had it 
lost the true knowledge of motion. 

The countless number of motions originated by 
men on any given day, pre-determined by them so as 
to harmonize with other motions, some their own, 
some proceeding from sources independent of them ; 
these motions, taken with their intercrossings, their 
compoundings, their separations, and their fruitful 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE. 206 



r 



cffects,are demonstrations, surpassing any requirements 
of evidence, that tue mind of man has some true know- 
ledge of motion, and that he has over it the mysterious 
power of originating and stopping it, as well as that 
of guiding and bending it while in flight. That he 
knows it to perfection, even a child would not say. 
That he does not know it at all, is too poor a saying 
to become an intelligent child. 

The further we follow up motion the more do we 
come into the presence of mind. As motion is the 
message of force in matter, so is force the message of 
mind to matter. Mind is a Mistress of motion only 
because she is a Mother of force. Knowledge of 
motion is knowledge of the effects of force : know- 
ledge of the amounts and directions of force is 
knowledge of the energies of mind. So far as we 
know, every moving body moves in conveying a 
purpose — moves as the representative of an originat- 
ing will and a selected end. 

II. — His Grounds for Holding Motion as 

Unknowable. 

What, then, are the grounds upon which Mr. 
Spencer affirms motion to be not truly cognizable ? 
Does he say that it is not real ? No : he asserts its 
reality ; and yet, in a very striking and suggestive 
passage, he distinctly implies that it is not a 



206 AGNOSTICISM, 



thing. But that implication I take to be only one 
instance of a habit of slipping in for a particular 
term a universal one. Speaking of motion : " What 
is this," he asks, " added to a body which does not 
sensibly affect any of its properties and yet enables it 
to traverse space ? Here is an object at rest and here 
is the same object moving. In the one state it has no 
tendency to change its place ; but in the other it is 
obliged at each instant to assume a new position. 
What is it which will for ever go on producing this 
effect without being exhausted? and how does it 
dwell in the object ? The motion you say has been 
communicated. But how? — What has been com- 
municated ? The striking body has not transferred 
a thing to the body struck [italics Mr. Spencer's]; 
and it is equally out of the question to say that it 
has transferred an attribute. What then has it 
transferred ?" ^ 

What then has it transferred? Mr. Spencers 

answers to his own question are three, and arc 

, ,, . all perfectly plain : It has not transferred a 

Is Motion a ^ ^ ^ 

Thing, an thing; it has not transferred an attribute; 

Attribute, or jt h^s transferred motion. Therefore, it 

follows that motion is neither a thing nor 

an attribute. Yet in reality Mr. Spencer holds it to be 

both a thing and an attribute. Holding that it is 

not matter added to a body, for the particular terra, 

1 First Frin,, § 17. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE, 207 

matter, he slips in the universal one, a thing.' He 
holds that it is not ^ property^ a permanent, inseparable 
quality of a body. For this narrower term he slips in 
the broader one, attribute. But motion is as much an 
attribute of the sea as extension is. Mr. Spencer 
says that motion does not sensibly affect any of the 
properties of the body. That is, it does not alter 
particular properties; but it is an attribute which, 
while present, alters the whole body, and alters its 
relations with everything in existence. We attribute 
to a train on its way rapid motion, or slow motion, 
just as the case may be. Mr. Spencer holds that the 
body striking has transferred to the body struck a 
something which obliges it to assume at each instant 
a new position, something which enables it to traverse 
space. This contemplates only inert bodies and their 
motion ; and to them language is perfectly applicable 
which makes the ability to traverse space synonymous 
with compulsion to move. Voluntary movement is 
here out of sight To include it would be nature 
versus much modem philosophy. 

Taking it then as settled that he admits motion to 
be an actual somewhat, does he take it not for a real 
thing, only for an illusory appearance ? With consider- 
able show of reason, from his language, this question 
might be answered in the affirmative. Still it would not 
be then correctly answered. Whatever he says about 

' ** Matter" in its logical relation to *' thing " is some things. 



208 AGNOSTICISM, 



our ideas of motion being " illusive, " he holds to the 
reality of motion. Sometimes, indeed, his words 
might warrant a hasty reader in saying that he 
denied it "A body," he remarks, " impelled by the 
hand is clearly perceived to move, and to move in a 
definite direction : there seems at first sight no 
possibility of doubting that its motion is real, or that 
it is towards a given point Yet it is easy to show 
that we not only may be, but usually are, quite wrong 
in both these judgments." ^ If we usually are wrong 
in both these judgments, then the motion of a body 
impelled by the hand and clearly perceived to move 
is usually not real motion, and its direction is usually 
not towards the point towards which it is seen to 
move. 

But such positions are not made good by the 
ingenious cases alleged in support of them. Those 
cases establish nothing more than the fact that the 
senses do not inform us of all the motions which 
affect any given body. They fail, and fail utterly, to 
establish either that the motion of the body impelled 
by the hand is not real, or that the direction of that 
motion is not the one it is perceived to be.* 

' Fir^t Prin,, § 17. 

* Perhaps Mr. Spencer may put into the word '* real " the nieaning 
of not relative. If so, that is to me one of the things incomprehen- 
sible. Motion, to my mind, must always be both real and relative ; 
and the attempt to set up an antithesis between what is relative and 
what is real is one of the most misleading contrivances of the schools. 
A relation, indeed, can no more constitute the things related, than an 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE, 209 

To prove that our ideas of motion are illusive, 

Mr. Spencer puts a case.^ He imagines a ship sailing 

to the west, and the captain walking to the east, just 

at the same rate of speed. This compound motion 

he still further compounds by taking into 

Tki Case of ^ J t> 

Mooing view the motion of the earth round its 
Captain and axis from west to east hundreds of times 
faster. This he compounds still further 
by taking into view the motion of the earth in its 
orbit in the opposite direction, sixty or seventy times 
faster than the last named motion. Even this he 
compounds further by taking into view the motion 
of the solar system, carrying the earth towards 
some point in the constellation Hercules. He thinks 
that from all this it results that the captain in 
walking from stem to stern, at the same rate as the 
ship sails, is stationary, " though to all on board the 
ship he seems to be moving.'' [Italics mine.] Seems 
to be moving! he is moving. What does Mr. 
Spencer understand by motion? If there is no 
motion without getting further east or west, further 

appeaiance can constitute the thing which appears, or than a change 
can constitute the thing which changes. On the other hand, a relation 
once formed is itself a reality as well as are the two things related, and 
a change in relations is a real change, may be a momentous one, 
even though it be not a change in the properties of either one or other 
of the things related. A change in relations is a real change even if it 
do not affect properties, and a change in properties must be a relative 
as well as a real change. 
» FirU Prin.^ % 17. 



210 AGNOSTICISM. 



north or south, then molecular motion is done away 
with. But that is not all. If a man whose left lej^ is 
passing his right leg, whose right leg is passing his 
left leg, in regular alternation ; a man whose whole body 
is traversing space ; a man who is every moment 
changing his position; a man who passes the fore- 
mast, passes the mainmast, passes the companion, 
passes the mizen, passes everything, to the taffrail, — is 
not moving, nothing ever moves. The illusiveness is 
not in the eyes of the people on board, but in 
the fog-signals of the philosopher. Sight reports 
a man moving from stem to stern, and a man 
moving from stem to stern there is in reality. Sight 
tells the truth respecting him equally well as it tells 
it respecting the other men who sit still. 

Sight does not say that this motion of the man 
from stem to stern is the sum total of all motion 
that affects the vehicle in which he is being carried, — 
affects its relations to the surface of the earth, to the 
solar system, to the stellar universe. Sight has com- 
paratively little part in those questions. It sees 
what it sees, reports it, and makes reason aware by 
its report that man is born to move under more 
powers than he sees, and is led by those powers ; and 
that where sight ends there his relations, his interests, 
his means of knowing, are only at their starting 
point. 

The man is motionless ! because forsooth the ship 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE, 211 

goes west as fast as he goes east, and carries him 
Hith her. If stationary meant motionless, — and that 
would be the only relevant meaning in the present 
case, — he would not be even stationary, but the 
opposite of stationary ; for he is constantly changing 
place. If stationary means remaining over the same 
part of the earth's surface, then a pendulum is station- 
ary, but not motionless ; soldiers marking time are 
stationary, but not motionless ; and a tree swaying is 
stationary, but not motionless. 

To those familiar with such puzzles, the case put is 
only one of a body in a vehicle, itself in another 
vehicle, and this again in an outer vehicle. A cherry 
in a hamper, the hamper in a truck, the truck in a 

The Cast of ^""^^^ > ^^^ ^^ ^1'- Supposc the cherry to 

a Cherry be at the end of the hamper next to the 

in a Train. ^^^^^^ Suppose that Clerk Maxwell 

causes the cherry to become possessed by one 
of his demons. The consequence is that instead 
of behaving properly, like "organic and inorganic," 
it takes to behaviour never heard of within that 
line of "inanimate material agency," which to 
many writers of our philosophical schools encloses all 
agency, but which Sir William Thomson, the man of 
science, cautiously marked as the line dividing 
between two regions requiring different systems of 
calculation, * which caution and distinction Helmholtz, 

^ Quoted Unseen Universe^ p. 86. 



212 AGNOSTICISM. 



in reviewing Sir William, takes note of with the 
remark that it is "very wise.**^ 

So our cherry, thus animated, is minded to a walk, 
a long walk, even all the length of the hamper. 
Therefore, it does walk across dozens of inanimate 
cherries, across scores of rods and spaces between 
rods, till it rests at the extreme end of the hamper. 
Now, is anything more untrue to sense, to percep- 
tion, to reason, to nature, and to science, than to speak 
of this movement as only a seeming one, or as being 
tainted with even the slightest shade of unreality ? 
Suppose that the train is heading west, and going five 
times faster than the cherry moves. In this case the 
cherry is no further east at the end of its race than at 
its beginning ; on the contrary, it is further west. 
That has nothing to do with the reality, or illusiveness, 
of its independent movement. Nor yet with the direc- 
tion of it. The cherry really did move, really left the 
place where it had been, really crossed one cherry, 
really crossed the hollow between that and the next, 
really crossed the second cherry, and so on, over 
body and void alternately to the end. At the end it 
was no longer in the place where it had been, and it 
was in a place where it had not been. So much for 
the reality of the movement. One word as to its 
direction. How, Mr. Spencer seems to ask, could it 
be moving eastward when at the end of the journey 



> Nature, No. 8li, Vol. 32. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE. 213 

it was further westward than it was at the beginning 
That is a mere school puzzle. Is it as far westward 
as it would have been had it not moved ? is it as far 
westward as the othpr cherries carried on inertly just 
as the vehicle went ? No ; it is not so far westward 
by the whole length of the hamper. Every inch it 
moved counts in the difference between the position 
of the cherries which did not move and its own. 
Exactly as many inches as it moved, so many is it 
eastward of them. 

The case of the ship is all Mr. Spencer advances in 
proof of our nescience of motion "in connection with 
space." This is what he counts upon to sustain the 

Illusive conclusions — that what we perceive are 
idias. not the real motions ; that our ideas of 
motion are illusive ; that what seems moving proves 
to be stationary, what seems stationary proves to 
be moving ; and that what we conclude to be going 
rapidly in one direction proves to be going more 
rapidly in the opposite direction. 

Of these propositions the last answers itself " Going 
more rapidly in the opposite direction " implies that it 
is also going in the other direction, though less rapidly. 
The proof that it is so going lies in the result of the 
two motions ; which differs from what would be the 
result of the more rapid, were it not in part counter- 
acted by the less rapid. As to the assertion that what 
seems moving proves to be stationary, and vice versa, 



214 AGNOSTICISM. 



the reply is, not always; not ordinarily; only, perhaps, 
in one case out of many. When it does occur, it is 
not generally a case of simple motion, as between two 
bodies before a stationary observer ; but of compound 
motion, the observer himself generally being in some 
vehicle. The cases that can be cited are particular 
ones, and not universal. Therefore, the two general 
conclusions are both erroneous. " Our ideas of motion 
are illusive,*' is a universal assertion, and is not correct. 
Some of our ideas of motion are illusive ; but generally 
they are not illusive ; and, when they are so, the illusion 
is generally temporary and contains seeds of self-cor- 
rection. " What we perceive are not real motions " — 
the term being universal, the assertion .is not true. 
Some motions which we seem to perceive are not real ; 
but nearly all of what we perceive are real motions. 
But when we examine the very case first described by 
Mr. Spencer, that of "a body impelled by the hand"; 
which, as he truly says, "is clearly perceived to move, 
and to move in a definite direction"; and respecting 
which he asserts that we are "usually quite wrong in 
both these judgments "; there is but one possible reply. 
Usually weare quite right in both these judgments ; and 
the case in which weare wrong in both of them, if known, 
is not cited by Mr. Spencer ; if knowable, is not indi- 
cated by him. To prove us usually wrong in both these 
judgments he quotes no case of a body impelled by the 
hand, but gives the case of ship and captain. That 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE. 215 

case he handles so as to construct a puzzle ; which 
puzzle, a little looked into, opens of itself and leaves 
us smiling, when we find it advanced as a philo- 
sophic proof, in this age of science, that motion is 
unknowable. 

Thus Mr. Spencer's demonstration, that motion 
" when considered in connection with space " is not 
truly cognizable, goes in reality to prove only that 
such motions as we see are not all that are taking 
place. In his selected case the only motion directly 
and instantly seen is that of the captain himself; or 
the independent motion of a body in a moving 
He Proves Vehicle. The second motion, that of the 
that iVe do ship, the moving vehicle, can be easily 

net Kfunv 

iLhatWeSee seen if looked for. But the rapid motions 
fyy Our of the greater moving vehicle, the earth, 
'^^t/ are utterly unseen, and remain so after 
do not See. reason has found them out ; whether it 
be its daily wheeling round at the rate of a thousand 
miles an hour, or its annual circuit at the rate of 
between sixty and seventy thousand miles an hour. 
In motion, as in other things, sight shows us a small 
part of what affects us, of what it is of moment that 
we should know. We are made to rise by sight to 
wider and deeper things than it reveals. This is 
really what Mr. Spencer's instances show ; — that the 
mightiest physical movements with which the human 
body IS carried along, in which it takes a part, are 



216 AGNOSTICISM. 



beyond sight, beyond perception ; undiscemed through 
any sense, yet within the grasp of knowledge, by just 
inference. His method of proving that we do not 
know what we see, is by displaying our knowledge 
of much more than we do see. Or in other words, 
he literally employs our knowledge of the unseen to 
establish our nescience of the seen. Nature employs 
our knowledge of the seen to apprize us of the unseen, 
to teach us that for a little which the eye reveals there 
is much behind, so much that the human being, body 
and mind, is in perpetual relation with things certainly 
existing, in part known, and yet passing knowledge. 

So completely unseen is the rotary motion of the 
earth, that even at this day the majority of human 
beings are not cognizant of it. So completely unseen 
is the greater motion of the earth in its orbit, that they 
who know how great is its speed are but a fraction of 
mankind. The further motion of the earth and all it 
contains, in company with the sun and the sister 
planets, is almost beyond the hearing of any but 
those who have schooling in civilized countries. Yet 
all-unseen as these are, unheard, unfelt, are they un- 
known ? Are we " quite wrong " in holding that they 
are real ? " quite wrong " in holding that they are in 
given directions ? Is our condition in respect of them 
to be called, with attention to the just use of language, 
" total ignorance " ? Is it not a case of knowing truly, 
and yet knowing in part ? 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE. 217 

III. — Motion in Connection with Matter, 

Having now seen how little it is that with Mr. 
Spencer suffices to place motion " considered in con- 
nection with space" beyond the line of the knowable, 
we do not need to do more than glance at his reasons 
for placing it beyond the same line when " considered 
in connection with matter." These, in fact, have already 
been before us. They are summed up in the question : 
What has the body striking transferred to the body 
struck ? Or in another form : "In what respect does 
a body after impact differ from itself before impact ? " 
Mr. Spencer's own answers are direct and plain, con- 
tained as they are in other questions. After it has 
been struck, the body is enabled to traverse space^ which 
I should say only of a living body ; or it is obliged at 
eachinstant to assume a new position, which is true of all 
bodies moved by material force. This is the respect 
in which it differs from itself when it was at rest. 
Then, he urges, What has been communicated ? Of 
course the answer is, Motion. But here he abruptly 
changes his method of questioning from What to How. 
Instead of asking What is motion ? and giving his 
own answer, " change of place," or any other, he asks 
How ? that is, how has it been communicated ? Here is 
one case of many in which the How is not easier than 
the Why ? for we often can tell why a thing has been 
set in motion when we are unable to tell How. Com- 

Q 



218 AGNOSTICISM, 



municated the motion has indeed been, and that we 
know. The What is therefore settled. The body 
struck has had motion imparted to it, the body striking 
has lost its motion. We were cognizant of motion in 
the body that delivered the stroke ; cognizant of rest 
in the body waiting to be struck ; cognizant of a 
change in it from rest to motion the instant after im- 
pact; cognizant of a continuance of the motion so 
begun ; and cognizant of first an arrest of motion, and 
then of rest after motion, in the body that delivered 
the stroke. Yet motion ** considered in connection 
with matter is not truly cognizable." And with Mr. 
Spencer it suffices to place it beyond the line of the 
knowable, that he can ask about it the questions we 
have cited ! He does, indeed, prove that our knowledge 
of it is not omniscience, but as an attempt to prove 
that it is nescience, I do not know what admirers 
and disciples may say of his argument. Any one of 
them could ask the master quite as many questions, 
and quite as hard ones, about the process of his writ- 
ing books. Yet I suppose they admit the fact of his 
writing books as one that is knowable. 

IV. — Motion in Connection with Rest, 

It will be remembered that motion " considered in 
connection with rest" is not truly cognizable. I do not 
hesitate to take " truly cognizable " as simply meaning 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE, 219 



cognizable, for what is not true knowledge is not 
knowledge at all. Mr. Spencer apparently means by 
truly cognizable what most would mean by completely 
or perfectly explicable ; but if that is his meaning it is 
a private one, till so stated. Mankind do not attach 
any such meaning to the words. Most men know 
both persons and things very truly in respect of which 
there remains more unknown to them than what is 
known. 

Why, then, is motion not cognizable when con- 
sidered in its relations to rest? Because, says Mr. 
Spencer, when we witness changes from rest to motion 
or from motion to rest, we find it impossible " truly to 
represent these transitions in thought." A moving 
body cannot, he adds, be brought to rest without 
passing through all the rates of speed between its own 
and none at all, or rest. But we cannot mentally 
picture the passing from the lowest degree of motion to 
none at all. Between the two the gap is impassable 
From a something, however minute, to nothing, the 
difference is infinite. Hence we cannot see how the 
infinitesimal motion becomes no motion, even the least 
conceivable motion being infinite as compared with 
rest ; and therefore " motion considered in connection 
with rest" is not cognizable. Now, in all this what 
we do not see is how an infinitesimal anything passes 
into nothing ; for an infinitesimal never does pass 
into nothing; as on the other hand nothing never 

Q2 



220 AGNOSTICISM. 



passes into an infinitesimal anything. What we do 
see is that motion is ended and rest sets in. This we 
are cognizant of, and able to verify in many ways. 
We are cognizant of changes from rest to motion, 
cognizant of changes from motion to rest. Wordy 
puzzles about infinites and infinitesimals and nothings, 
which are excellent sharpeners for youths in schools, or 
good pastime for monks in cloisters, are anything but 
excellent when put out as philosophy. The old puzzles 
which prove that nothing can move, and that it both 
rains and does not rain, seem to me serious compared 
with some of the Agnostic puzzles. This, how- 
ever, is a digression ; and now to return to rest and 
motion. If to be "truly" cognizant of them means 
being able to answer all possible questions about 
them, and if not being able to do this reduces our know- 
ledge to untrue knowledge, then mankind in all its 
experience is astray ; then truly knowing one's own 
body means being able truly to represent all its 
trafisitions in tliought,^ Sometimes it happens that 
the longer we know our bodies and the more we study 
them, the less able are we to give a satisfactory account 
of their transitions. 

We have now seen the reasons why, whether 
considered in relation to space, to matter, or to rest, 
motion is placed beyond the line of the knowable. 



1 First Prin,y §17. * * Truly to represent these transitions in thought 
we find impossible,*' i .^., from rest to motion and vice versa. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE. 221 

Those reasons leave us where we were, and leave the 
question where it was. Motion is real, and we know 
it. Motion when seen by us is generally in the 
direction it seems to be in. When it is a motion made 
with our body, or by our body impelling something 
else, it is always in the direction it seems to be in. 
That fact is not altered if a vehicle containing us, and 
also the thing we impel, carries both in a direction 
opposite to the one in which we impelled it. But 
when our own bodies are not making proper motions, 
but are being carried along while themselves in a 
sense at rest, then are we, until experience corrects 
first impressions, subject to illusions in respect of the 
movements of bodies outside of the vehicle — be it boat, 
train, or anything else. Perhaps the best vehicle for 
illustrating this is an outside jaunting car running fast 
along fields of potatoes or corn in "ridges." The ridges 
seem to spin round with amusing velocity. Even in 
childhood, however, how soon one learns that the 
illusion is an illusion ; after which all its power ot 
deception is gone. Exceptions of this kind only 
render more conclusive the evidence that sight is 
ordinarily worthy of full trust, and that, when it 
brings illusions, it brings with them elements of 
detection and correction which will eventually 
prove effectual. 

The reality of our knowledge of motion and its 
partiality at the same time are both in keeping with 



222 AGNOSTICISM. 



what applies to all our knowledge. I say all ; for we 
Iilusim ought not to speak of illusory impressions 
net as illusive knowledge, false knowledge, not 
Knowledge. ^^^ knowledge, or such like, as if know- 
ledge could be both true and false. It can be true 
and partial; but illusion is not knowledge at all. It is 
ignorance and worse ; for while in mere ignorance we 
have no idea at all of a thing, in illusion we have no 
just idea of it and have a false one 

V. — Seen Bearing Witness to Unseen, 

Instead, then, of the unknowableness of motion 
reacting upon our belief in the Living God so as to lead 
us to say that He cannot be known, the testimony 
of motion and our knowledge of it turns all the 
other way. It is manifest to reason — so manifest . 
that not to have faith in it is unreasonable — ^that 
we are borne on — we, our fellows, our world, and 
other worlds in companionship — by movements of 
which no eye sees, no ear hears, no hand feels a single 
indication. It is equally manifest that of the existence 
of these we are not left without witness, though it is 
not directly revealed to sense. One slight movement 
of a planet or a star may open an avenue through 
which shall appear to thought sweeps and systems of 
motion which never will to man on earth become 
objects of sense. The movements which are familiar 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE, 22» 

objects of sense, — the fall of an apple, the rise 
of a water-vapour, the swelling of a tide — are each 
and every one to us the index of present interests, 
and also of others that, though more remote, 
are also often more momentous, These familiar move- 
ments, near and visible, are tokens of forces on which 
individual welfare depends, ay, individual existence ; 
but the unseen movements which they reveal to faith, 
without displaying them to sight, are tokens of forces 
on which the existence of the -earth itself depends, the 
existence of worlds and worlds travelling in concert. 
Motion of things lifeless is the witness to mind and 
life. Behind a movement are will and purpose ; in it 
are power and guiding; before it work and ends. The 
telescope of the astronomer leads us upwards to marvels 
of motion in magnitudes of mass and space that 
overwhelm us ; the microscope of the naturalist leads 
us downwards to motions of living motes bordering 
closely on the infinitely minute. The one and the 
other set us in presence of an infinity. Amid one and 
the other we see power and guiding in the movement, 
work and ends before the movement ; and shall we 
see, or refuse to see, will and purpose behind the 
movement ? 

VI. — Tlie Grounds of the Unknowableness of tlu 

Earth, 
Our impression that nothing in the so-called nes- 
cience of Mr. Spencer is of force to disturb our faith in 



224 AGNOSTICISM, 



the existence of a Personal God, or, indeed, our faith 
in anything else, is strengthened if we briefly pass in 
review some others of the objects which to him are 
unknowable, noting what, in their case, also suffices 
to place them beyond the line of the knowable. 
Why should it be strange to Mr. Spencer that we 
speak as though we had an idea of the earth ? Per- 
haps it may be that he takes, as an equivalent for that 
phrase, his own alternative phrase subjoined to it, — 
" as though we could think of it in the same way that 
we think of minor objects."^ Some of us believe that 
we have an idea of London, and yet never fancied 
that we could think of it in the same way as we do of 
a single cottage. For, by thinking of it in the same 
way, our author evidently intends forming of it in the 
mind an equally commensurate picture. He says 
that, when we are on the 3ea-shore, we can "realize 
with tolerable clearness " the curvature of the 
earth's surface ; and we can also, "with some- 
thing like completeness," mentally represent to 
ourselves the piece of rock on which we stand 
This he calls forming a conception of the rock ; 
and I assume also of the curvature. But he says 
that if we attempt to follow out the idea of the 
curvature to the antipodes we are utterly baffled; 
and forming a conception of the earth as we 
did of the rock we find impossible. That cannot 



» First PHn., §9. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE, 22o 

mean more than that we are unable to form as com- 
plete a mental image of the large object as of the 
small one. It does not mean that we have not an 
idea of the large one, or that it is to us unknown, 
much less unknowable. 

Mr. Spencer's criterion of knowledge amounts to a 
mere ability to picture the form and colour of an 
His PUce object in the imagination. He can have 
of Rock, i^ yjg^ no other idea of knowledge when 
he speaks of the piece of rock as being mentally 
represented with something like completeness. 
All he thinks of is evidently the mental image 
of the shape and colour of a piece of rock, so as 
to be able to think " of its top, its sides, and 
its under surface, at the same time or nearly at the 
same time." Is that sufficient to give us a tolerably 
complete knowledge of it ? It does not even assure 
me that I shall know of what kind of stone it is. 
How often on the sea-shore has one asked people 
who well knew the shape and colour of the rocks 
what kind they were of, and found they did not know? 
They might be granite, or basalt, or limestone, for 
what they could tell. A geologist who never saw the 
piece of rock, and could make no mental representa- 
tion of it, would know more about its nature by show- 
ing him a pebble from the foot of it than the mere 
mental representation, "with something like complete- 
ness," would ever yield. The criterion is applicable 



226 AGNOSTICISM, 



only to surfaces, and even as to them it is for the 
little and nothing but the little. 

Our mental picture of the earth Mr. Spencer takes 
to be compounded out of the image of an artificial 
globe and such perceptions of the earth's surface as 
our eyes give us. Very well ; if so composed, it will 
be substantially correct as to form. But did the 
original mental conception of a globular earth spring 
from the "terrestrial globe"? If it did, What did the 
original conception of a terrestrial globe spring from ? 
Most of us would say that the globe was child and 
not parent of the conception, and that a conception of 
the earth as a globe was parent of a model of it in 
that form. The genesis of the " terrestrial globe *' lies 
in the conceptions of man as to the form of his abode. 
Like other shapes, it is the die of thought stamped 
upon matter. It "differentiates" that particular 
piece of matter from others of the same composition, 
by a something added to it which does not change its 
properties, which does not, like motion, enable it to 
traverse space, but which does enable it to present to 
all minds the idea conceived by one. Thus, then, does 
form stand up as a witness to the power of mind over 
matter, and also as an interpreter of mind to mind — 
interpreter of thoughts respecting matter which words 
could not render until after a form had first embodied 
the thought, and a word had subsequently been associ- 
ated with that form, as its name, capable of recalling it 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE, 227 



The method of presenting the terrestrial globe as 

the origin of our conception of the earth's rotundity 

Tkt c '^ "^^ repugnant to much of our modern 

of the philosophical writing. When things are 

Terrestrial constituted out of their own properties, 

operations, modes of procedure, and ap- 
pearances, why not also out of their own offspring ? 
But leaving these questions to Agnostics, we pass on 
to note their surprise at our thinking that we have an 
idea of the earth. We feel that we have an idea of it; 
one, like all our ideas, falling short of knowledge to 
perfection, yet one, like all our knowledge, yielding us 
guidance beyond price. Mr. Spencer's words have 
often recalled to me the mid-day when, on the ship 
Essex^ Captain Foord said : "If the wind holds we 
shall sight the Friar's Hood by three o'clock." The 
name was that of a mountain in Ceylon, and we had 
been some ninety days without sight of land. When 
the word was fulfilled how vividly I felt that it was a 
Have We an Striking proof of the reality of science and 
Idea of the of its value. We had indeed an idea of the 

earth. That idea was that the way to 
voyage over it is to seek guidance from on high. 
Earth, as we saw it during three months, could give us 
no information as to where we were. From the wave 
that sank out of view at the same time as the coast of 
Madeira to the one which rose into view at the same 
time as the coast of Ceylon, no hint of north or south 



228 AGNOSTICISM. 



did billow or ripple yield us. Our information as to 
where we were and whither we were going came 
solely from the signs set in the firmament of 
heaven. Faith in these, and knowledge deduced by 
reason from the data they afforded, had led us through 
far extended vacancy towards the desired objects. 
Strange shores rose up to testify that the heavens 
utter speech — speech that man can so interpret as to 
turn it into knowledge sufficient to be his guide. 

Mr. Spencer, then, may call our ideas of the earth 
either a real conception or a symbolical one ; but they 
are of use. So, when he passes to such ideas as are 
imperfect, not through the great size of the object, but 
through its numerous divisions, the same is true : our 
ideas are of use. Great durations and great magni- 
tudes, he says, are not actually conceived, 

Ideas of j y » • 

Duration but Only Symbolically. It is true, if we 
^'^ speak of a year, we do not picture 

Magnitude. ^ • • • ^- xt 

each moment m imagmation. No more, 
if we speak of miles do we picture every inch ; or 
if we speak of a million of pounds do we picture 
each sovereign. But our idea of a whole is as definite 
as that of a single part, and as correct. It is not a 
full comprehension, if that means separately seeing all 
the parts in one mental act. It is a definite and an 
accurate conception. Try any ordinary man, and see 
if he will accept the enjoyment of a possession for 364 
days as being for a year. Try any clerk if he will 



THE LINE Ofi THE KNOWABLE. 229 



take 999,999 pounds for a million. A collective idea 
is as definite, and as trustworthy, as any other; 
perhaps more definite than an individual one, because 
less perplexed with forms and colours, if it refer to 
objects of sense ; and less with details, if it refer to 
other objects of thought. For instance, our concep- 
tion of a thousand pounds is just as clear, whether it 
means one bank note, or ten hundred gold pieces. 
In the first case, we can picture the note, "with some- 
thing like completeness," but may be puzzled with a 
doubt as to the number, the signature, or the letter. 
In the second case, we cannot picture each of the ten 
hundred pieces. But if any one tries to pass off upon 
us nine hundred for ten, we show at once that inability 
to form a complete " mental representation " was not 
ignorance, as the ability to form it in the case of the 
note was not knowledge. It was mere imagining of 
the object of sense, — the body, or framework, or 
symbol, or phenomenon, or ghost ; whatever you 
please to call it, of the object of thought. That was 
a given value ; and whether it was represented by 
pieces of metal or pieces of paper was a mere 
accidental circumstance. It was acquaintance with 
the value, a just estimate of the object of thought, 
which constituted knowledge. Our conception of great 
durations, great magnitudes, or aught else collective, 
is not commensurate, is not knowledge to perfection. 
It is, on the other hand, not nescience, and not 



230 AGNOSTICISM, 



illusion ; it is real, partial cognizance, vindicating 
the truthfulness of the past, guiding the present, pre- 
paring safe action for the future ; priceless know- 
ledge inviting us to grow therein. 

VII. — Why Space and Titneare Unknowable, 

What is it that suffices to place Space and Time 
beyond the line of the knowable ? It is this : " To be 
conceived at all, a thing must be conceived as having 
attributes."^ Now, as to space, our philosopher holds 
that the only attribute which it is possible to think of 
as belonging to it is extension ; and to credit it with 
this implies a confusion of thought ; seeing that 
extension and space are convertible terms. Thus, 
space has no attributes, and Time is equally destitute 
of them ; and this defect removes them out of the 
range of knowledge. This method of defining first 
and observing afterwards, is a good one for putting 
things beyond any line you think fit. Mr. Spencer 
cannot credit space with extension Can you, 
sagacious reader, debit it with non-extension? is it 
to you " possible to think of it " as without extension \ 
For me, I could readily credit it with capacity, 
and consequently with extension in length, breadth, 
Has Space and height, not to speak of the fourth 
Attributes? dimension. Space is one of the few things 
the reality of which can be verified by each of 

^ First Prin., §15. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE, 231 

the senses separately. Like motion and form, it 
is not matter; like them, it is not mind. Unlike 
them, it is not anything that finite mind can 
originate or annul. But not being either matter 
or mind, it is yet so related to each of them by 
Him who was before either, and is ever present 
with both, that every sense can verify it. The sub- 
stance which when an inch from the lips yielded us 
no taste is sweet when that space has been crossed. 
That which offered no hardness a foot off is hard 
when that space is no more between. The flower 
that yields us no odour when at the other end of a 
room smells sweet when near at hand. The clock 
that sends us no sound when a mile off does so when 
we draw near. The bird that is visible for a certain 
space disappears beyond it. Similar remarks apply 
to time. Here, then, once more, our knowledge is 
neither omniscience nor nescience. It is the real but 
partial knowledge of finite minds ; fit for them, 
serviceable for their uses. Mr. Spencer may put time 
and space beyond the bounds of the knowable ; to us 
they are within those bounds ; they are things we 
cannot help knowing, things which saturate us with 
evidence of their presence, and of their momentous 
place in the system of the universe. Neither mind, 
body, nor spirit ; neither matter nor form ; neither 
motion nor force ; they encompass all of these — two 
omnipresent and perpetual witnesses to one all- 



232 AGNOSTICISM. 



comprehending power, and to one all-harmonizing 
plan. We know them, and we know them in part. 

VIII. — Why Matter is Unknowable. 

What places matter beyond the line of the know- 
able? It IS declared to be "in its ultimate nature as 
absolutely incomprehensible as space and time.'* 
Suppose it to be so ; if space and time though in- 
comprehensible are knowable, so may matter be. Mr. 
Spencer has no ill-will to matter, yet he seems rather 
more than usually exigent in respect of it. "Could 
we succeed in decomposing it into those ultimate 
homogeneous units of which it is not improbably 
composed," we should, he thinks, still be unable to say 
what it is. "The ultimate unit must remain . . . . 
absolutely unknown."' Most of us would be disposed 
to call it knowledge when we knew its mass, its 
form, its forces, its motions, its properties in com- 
bining, its properties isolated ; and knew its composi- 
tion down to the smallest sensible grain, down wth 
Dallinger and his microscope to the minutest particle 
that even it can bring up out of the unknown, then 
down beyond the particle to the molecule, and down 
further to the atom, the ultimate atom, Thomson's 
vortex, or the hard and solid mite of Lucretius. Yet 
after all this we must pronounce the ultimate atom 

> Principles of Psychology^ \ 62. 



THE LINE OF THE KNOWABLE. 233 ! 



absolutely unknown. That is, finding it out had left 
us where we were before we found it out ; before, in- 
deed, we ever began to seek it out ; ay, before we ever 
heard of it No : the atom would not be absolutely 
unknown. In its minuteness, like Space in its vast- 
ness, it would at the same time be known, and yet 
pass our knowledge. 

IX. — Why Self is Unknowable. 

Finally, we ask what suffices to place Self, or our own 
personality, beyond the line of the knowable ? Here 
there is no ambiguity in Mr. Spencer as to the reality 
of our personal existence, or of our consciousness of 
it; no doubt as to the confessed certainty of it. It is 
admitted to be the certainty of the crowd and the 
philosopher alike. What, then, renders unknowable 
that which is real, that which we are certain of, 
conscious of? It is the definitions. "If the object 
perceived is self, what is the subject that perceives?** 
This tremendous puzzle is followed up thus: "If it 

Cm Self be ^^ *^^ ^^^ ^^^^ which thinks, what other self 
Subfect can it be that is thought of?*' Now, the 
■^'^ pre-conceived definition of knowledge evi- 
dently postulates that the knowing and the known 
cannot be one and the same. We do not, it would 
seem, know self; but one thing we do know, absolutely 
know, rightly know, that if there is one self thought 
of, it must be another sejlf that thinks of it 1 If, for 

R 



234 AGNOSTICISM. 



instance, it is the true self that is touched, it must be 
another self that touches it. If it is the true self that 
is shaved, it must be another self that shaves it The 
axiom that if one self is thought of it must be another 
self that thinks of it, is taken as a thing we do know. 
We are assumed so well to know it that we use it as 
the criterion by which to judge whether or not we 
can know things open to sense. Yet things more 
obvious than that axiom are ruled beyond the line of 
knowledge. The description of things we do not 
know includes self, matter, time, space, motion. 

Dean Mansel is responsible for the final evidence 
that self lies beyond the line of the knowable. 
" Clearly a true cognition of self implies a state 
in which the knowing and the known are one, 
— in which subject and object are identified; and 
this Mr. Mansel rightly holds to be the anni- 
hilation of both." The annihilation it is of the idea 
that they are two, the establishment of the posi- 
tion that they are one ; but the annihilation it is not 
of the position that the knower knows himself, and 
that the known is known to himself; that the subject 
is its own object, and the object its own subject This 
is what the experience of all mankind has settled. 
For one case in a day when anything else than our- 
selves is our object, there are many when nothing else 
is so. Therefore when we read, " that the personality 
of which each is conscious, and of which the existence 



THE LINE OF THE KNOW ABLE. 236 

is to each a fact beyond all others the most certain, is 
yet a thing which cannot be truly known at all : know- 
ledge of it is forbidden by the very nature of thought," ' 
we reply: On the contrary, it is known, it is cer- 
tain, it is a matter of consciousness. Not truly known 
at all ! Not known to perfection ; like other things, 
partly known to us, and perfectly known to One heart- 
searcher only. Knowledge of self v^ forbidden by the 
very nature of tJiought ! Non-knowledge of it, nes- 
cience of it, is forbidden by the very nature of thought. 
Men are their own objects at every waking moment. 
What is your object when you are saying to yourself, 
"I think," "I wish," "I fear"; when you say. "I came," 
" I went," " I heard," " I read"? What is your object 
in the great majority of your mental observations ? 
Yourself; some thought, or feeling, or act of your own, 
past, present, or future. You note your thoughts as they 
rise, judge some of them proper to be uttered, some 
proper to be repressed ; some to be cherished, some 
to be checked. This does not annihilate anything 
but the theory of such metaphysicians as allow them- 
selves to be dazzled with the excessive light of their 
own definitions. Human thought does not work as 
British statesmen do, like bees under a glass hive ; it 
can shut itself off from every human eye save one. But 
it does work on a sea of glass. As the swan, on still 
Saint Mary's lake, swam double — swan and shadow, so 

^ First Prin,, § 20. 

R 2 



236 AGNOSTICISM. 



does thought arise double — the thought and the 
consciousness of it. This self-seeing, self-knowing, 
self-judging life of the human soul is a fact too 
deeply seated in the experience of all men to be dis- 
turbed by any leverage of logic, much less by a few 
dexterous turns of a metaphysical kaleidoscope. 

Every step, then, in the investigation of the objects 
pronounced to be unknowable by Mr. Spencer, and of 
the reasons for which he places them in that category', 
goes to give keener edge to the question, What can he 
mean by knowing a thing, and what by not knowing 
it ? He cannot mean what men mean by it, what 
women and children mean by it, what dictionaries say 
it ought to mean. He must surely have discovered 
some private species of knowledge peculiar to his 
own researches. 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 237 



CHAPTER III. 

IN WHAT CONSISTS, ACCORDING TO MR. SPENCER, 
KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT? 

I. — Is All Science Prevision ? 

Mr. Spencer lays it down that science is simply a 
development of common knowledge ; so much so, that 
if we reject science we must reject all knowledge. 
He also lays it down ** that all science is prevision."' 
It would follow that all knowledge is prevision. Now, 
it is not possible for us to foresee that of which we 
are in " total ignorance," that of which we have no 
cognition, that which is to us utterly inconceivable ; 
so then, if all knowledge is prevision, it will follow 
that all knowledge must be knowledge. To this 
truism the Agnosticism of Mr. Spencer would not, in 
theory, offer any objection, although, in practice, it 
seeks to make room for itself by undermining the 
greater part of our knowledge, and making it appear 
to be nescience. 

I do not wish to pledge myself to the position that 
all science is prevision, or even that all common 

' First Prin,y ^19. 



238 AGNOSTICISM. 



knowledge — less systematized, less carefully laid up 
for future use than science — is so. Both my reader 
and I may be of opinion that our knowledge of our own 
deceased relations is not prevision, but something so 
different from it that it needs a philosopher of 
acknowledged rank to scorn the difference. Even 
in science, probably all Herschel's knowledge of 
Uranus was not prevision, probably all Faraday's 
knowledge of electricity was not prevision, and pro- 
bably all Owen's knowledge of animals was not 
prevision. I do not say that it is Mr. Spencer s own 
fixed view that all science is prevision, but rather look 
on his assertion to that effect as one instance of the 
premature stage at which his opinions, even on central 
questions, sometimes come into the world. 

II. — What is the Least Degree of Knowledge ? 

In the endeavour to gain some clear light on what 
Mr. Spencer really does mean by knowledge, one tries 
to find out what he accepts as the lowest degree of 
it, and also what he regards as its opposite. On 
the first of these two points we have direct evidence 
He clearly tells us what is, in his view, the 
smallest conceivable degree of knowledge, so that 
whatever does not rise to that level cannot be know- 
ledge in any degree whatever. " Manifestly, the 
smallest conceivable degree of knowledge implies at 
least two things between which some community \s 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT. 239 

recognized."' That is, it implies a comparison of 
two things between which the mind recognizes some 
point or points in common. This extends the asser- 
tion, that knowledge implies comparison of one 
object with others, and makes it include compari- 
son of it with similars. The grounds of this asser- 
tion need to be well noted: "An object is said 
to be little known when it is alien to objects of 
which we have had experience, and it is said to be 
well-known when there is great community of attri- 
butes between it and objects of which we have had 
experience." Should we then say that a thing is well- 
known because it in several points resembles things 
previously known ? For instance, is the Spanish 
language well-known to an Italian because " there is 
great community of attributes " between it and the 
language of which he has had experience from 
infancy ? No, it is not well-known ; it is not even ill- 
known. The truth is that a thing is not well-known, 
but that it is soon learned when it resembles things 
we do know. So long as the locomotive was con- 
fined to George Stephenson's premises, it was not 
well-known to other engineers, to whom the stationary 
engine was familiar. When first seen by them it was 
not instantly well-known, but their knowledge of 
attributes resembling its attributes made it easy for 
them to learn it It was after they had done that, 

• Prin, of Psychology^ § 59. 



240 AGNOSTICISM. 



and not till after it, that to them the locomotive was 
well-known. Finding, then, the Agnostic view of 
what constitutes a thing " well-known," so doubtful, 
we turn to what might be supposed to be the more 
congenial side of the question, namely, what constitutes 
a thing " little known." 

Is it correct that if a thing is alien to other things of 
which we have had experience, it is therefore little 
known ? If so, the Welsh language would be little 
known to Welshmen, and the Chinese language to 
Chinamen. Both are alien to any other languages of 
which they respectively have had experience. 

In practice, the fact that a given object, be it an 
object of thought or be it an object of sense, differs 
from all others, does not necessarily lead to its being 
little known, but has a tendency to make it notorious. 
Amber was for ages known, though alien to other 
known substances, and was often wrongly affiliated : 
for men, not content with knowing it, wished also to 
know its origin. A thing totally unlike things of 
which we have had experience is hard to learn ; and 
that is all that can be made of the Agnostic assumption 

III. — Mind Undassable and therefore Unknowable! 

Here it is to be distinctly noted that these axioms 
as to what constitutes a thing well-known and little 
known, are laid down immediately on the way to the 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 241 



conclusion that Mind is unclassable and t/ierefore 
unknowable. A thing, avers our axiomatist, " is com- 
pletely unknown where there is no recognized com-^ 
munity at all " between it and other things known to- 
us. " If so, how can we know the substance of Mind?" 
In the conclusion, above put in italics, Mr. Spencer 
no longer speaks of " the substance of Mind," but uses- 
the much clearer expression Mind. Therefore it is 
mind itself that is unknowable ; and that for the cogent 
reason that, as there is manifestly no second thing of 
a similar kind to compare it with, it cannot be known. 
Another instance this of first defining and after- 
wards observing. Settle it beforehand that whatever 
has not a fellow, or at least a distantly resembling 
similar, is unknowable, and then you will not be 
tempted to observe whether the air you breathe is 
knowable or not. Another point to be remarked here 
is that in selecting Mind as a thing unknowable, 
because it is without a fellow, Mr. Spencer takes, not 
human mind, not superhuman mind, nor yet infra- 
human mind ; but mind in the total. In so doing, he 
selects an object which includes not only countless 
individuals, but species as yet uncounted. He selects 
a genus, of which the different species resemble one 
another and differ, while within each species the indi- 
viduals again resemble one another and differ. These 
species are as numerous, perhaps, as those included 
in any other genus that could be selected ; unless 



242 AGNOSTJCISAf. 



indeed, we make but one group of mind and all else 
calling the whole of them things. Now, this whole 
genus, Mind, is unknowable, because it is unclassable, 
and is unclassable for the excellent reason that when 
once you have included in it every mind of any kind, 
there is nothing left to class the whole with. 

In presence of this all-sufficing and obvious reason, 
which Mr. Spencer does not assign, the two re- 
condite ones he does assign appear superfluous. 
But though they prove nothing, and go to prove 
nothing, they construct a school puzzle. Mind 
must be unknowable because of what? because it 
is never felt, never observed, never present to con- 
sciousness? because it never produces effects from 
which the reality of its existence may be properly 
inferred ? because it is evident we could account for 
all events as well without it as with it ? No : not for 
these reasons, or any similar ones. It is unknowable 
because by constructing a quasi-dilemma between an 
Idealist and a Realist we can make a puzzle. If, 
argues Mr. Spencer, the Idealist is right, no other sub- 
stance except mind exists ; therefore none to compare 
it with ; hence " it remains unknown.*' If, on the 
•contrary, the Realist is right, all things are either 
Mind or not Mind, therefore nothing similar to mind 
-exists, only things dissimilar. On these grounds it is, 
in language already cited, "unclassable, and there- 
fore unknowable." Each of these arguments assumes 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 243 



as an axiom the broad proposition that what cannot 
be classed cannot be known, a proposition at which 
we shall look in its turn. Challenge this assumed 
major in either argument, and it becomes at once a 
tricycle on two wheels. 

IV. — Tlu Unique not T/ie Unknown. 

Now, to the question : Is it or is it not true that 
no degree of knowledge whatever can be had of any 
object unless there exist at least two, with observable 
points of resemblance ? That is the actual form of 
the question as stated by Mr. Spencer ; but it is not 
the form in which it is treated of by him. Instead 
of taking two minds as affording to us the materials 
for a comparison, he groups together all minds of all 
grades, and then sets over against them the rest of 
the universe, and concludes that there is in it nothing 
to compare with mind ; ergOy nothing to render it 
knowable. On this method of treatment he could 
as easily prove that fish were unknowable ; for 
if all fish are fish, and all other things are not fish, 
what is to be asserted of all other things is that they 
are alien from fish, hence fish are unclassable, and 
therefore unknowable. The same method of em- 
ploying a privative proposition will bring out the 
same result for earthquakes: since all earthquakes 
are earthquakes, and all other things are alien 



244 AGNOSTICISM. 



from them, therefore they are not classable or 
knowable. 

First it was laid down that there must be two 
things in some respect corresponding. That is the 
general principle. Next, when we were confronted 
with ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands 
of thousands of things in many respects corre- 
sponding, called minds, we were told that, whereas 
all minds are Mind, they cannot be compared, or 
classed, or known. That is the application of the 
principle to a particular case. It would not be 
easy to set limits to this felicitous method of con- 
straining all nature to take the black veil. We can 
always divide the sum total of things into some one 
thing, and all the rest into an ego and a non-tgOy 
according to the logic of the gentleman who knew 
only two airs, of which one was God Save the Queen 
and the other was not. 

Unsatisfactory as is this method of Mr. Spencer, 

it is hard to see how he could have adopted a better 

so long as he worked in the self-imposed shackles of 

, ^, . his own axiom, standing at the head of the 

Is Classing ^ 

the Only paragraph on which we have been com- 
^^y ^f menting : " To know anything is to dis- 

Knowing? .... , , , , 

tmguish It as such and such — to class 
it as of this or that order."' This being premised 
in all reasoning about knowledge, renders it mere 

* Prin, of Psychology^ } 59. 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT, 245 

oily to think of knowing anything of which there 
are not at least two, anything which does not 
naturally fall into a class. It renders it folly to 
suppose that there might be a case of an object 
known, even well-known according to human mea- 
sure, which, nevertheless, is not one of many similars, 
not even one of two, but is a self-classed somewhat 
that not only stands out distinct from other things, 
but stands off from them, foreign to them, an object 
actually unique. 

The bearing of this upon the question of the 
existence of One who cannot be compared to any 
other or likened to any class is obvious. Even if 
such an One did exist, He must under this axiom be 
unknowable. The axiom would leave the question 
of His existence or non-existence unsettled ; but would 
settle for ever and ever the question of His know- 
ableness. Granted the existence of such a Being, 
the conditions of that existence raise a strong 
presumption that all things will concur to make Him 
known in part, each finite object reflecting some ray 
of His infinity from an angle peculiar to itself, each 
dependent object, in like manner, reflecting some ray 
from His power. This presumption follows from the 
bare thought of His absolute preeminence and His 
all-originating acts. But it is to forestall any such 
presumption, and to turn absolute preeminence into 
an insurmountable obstacle against making Himself 



246 AGNOSTICISM, 



known, that the maxim is invented which affirms 
that nothing can be known unless there are at least 
two of a class. 

This principle, however, cannot be applied to that 
One supreme object of knowledge without embracing 
others. It cannot be so applied until after it has 
been first accepted as a general principle. To accept 
it as such is easy, if you lay it down beforehand as 
an axiom, to which all reasoning is to be adjusted. 
To accept it as such is hard, indeed becomes 
impossible, if you first take cases, draw out their 
testimony, and from that testimony attempt to 
deduce your general principle. Comte's imagination 
that classing a thing was explaining it may have 
been the parent, and apparently was the parent, of 
Mr. Spencer's imagination that to class a thing is to 
know it. If so, the offspring is afflicted with the 
infirmity of the parent in an aggravated form. 

From the region of axioms and assumptions 
let us descend to that of human experience. 

Whenever I think of the Agnostic position, that 

to know a thing is to class it, that you cannot have 

even the lowest conceivable degree of knowledge of 

Case of the anything unless you have at least two in 

Pacific some points similar to compare, and that 

is/awfers. therefore any object whatever that should 

be sole of its kind, incapable of being 

likened to any other within our experience, must 



KNOH^rXG ^ THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 247 

remain unknown, — whenever I think on this, by- 
some strange association I am reminded of that 
remarkable man, lately deceased, Thakombau, King 
of Fiji. He, according to the notion under review,, 
never could know the Pacific. No more could his 
remarkable compeer. King George of the Friendly 
Isles. The question cannot be raised whether or not 
they did know it. That question, you will remark, is 
forestalled by an axiom that renders it folly to raise 
any question of fact. They could not know the 
Pacific It was alien from all other objects of which 
they had experience; there was no community of 
attributes between it and other known objects; it 
absolutely could not be classed, therefore, in the 
lucid language of our author, it remained "com- 
pletely unknown " ; for, he says, an object is 
"completely unknown when there is no recognized 
community' at all." 

It is true that both Thakombau and George lived 
much upon the Pacific, by day and by night, in peace 
and war, in storm and calm; but the Pacific was 
alien from all else of which they had experience. There 
were no other seas with which they could class it. 
It was not like their bits of islands, or their canoes;, 
not like their huts or clubs ; not like the churches 
when these arose ; not like the big ships of the white 
man. Thus "at least two things" of a class were 
never presented to their experience ; and without such 



■248 AGNOSTICISM. 

a comparison, knowledge could not be arrived at. 
Then, be content, neither Thakombau nor George 
•could know the Pacific. 

In like manner North Country captains, who come 
from the Tyne, or the Wear, or the Tees to the Thames, 
cannot know the sea. Or, if one of them can know it, 
it is not because he faced the North Sea when he was 
twelve years old, and has passed over it summer and 
-winter ever since, and has had it dashing over him 
several times a year; no, no, he can know it only 
because he also knows the Baltic and the Mediterranean, 
at least knows about them, and can class the North 
Sea as one of the order ! 

And thou, sagacious reader, thou also knowest not. 
Be meek ! Thou canst not know the Sun. He is alien 
from all other things in thy experience. There are not 

Case of the *^^ '^^^^ ^^^^ things" in the class. In 
Sun— Is it order to know the Sun, thou art under 
Xfumabie? obligation first to set beside the one that 
-exists "at least'* one additional. He is absolutely 
unclassed. Astronomers talk as if the stars might 
be something like him ; but if that is so, the like- 
ness must be for people of other worlds, not for thee 
and me in our low estate. Perhaps some may get over 
the difficulty by classing the Sun with the moon, so 
making two, calling both lights. By this comparison 
and classing, we do get, it might be argued, knowledge 
of the sun. Yet a point would be raised by adopting 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT. 249 

an ailment like that. If the Sun had himself shone 
for the whole twenty-four hours he would have been 
altogether unknowable! for in that case there would 
have been absolutely nothing to class him with. 

One word more upon these unclassed unknowables 
You have heard of a thing called the Air, or Atmo- 
sphere, or some such name. Now, if it is a knowable 
thing, at least two of the kind or two somewhat akin 
must exist. Who comes forward to tell his experiences 
of a second ? The lark that makes the welkin ring 
does not know the air; for he cannot class it with 
others of its order. The sailor who, furling the royal» 
looks away into heaven above and far around on 
earth beneath, and feels the coming gale, does not 
know the air ; he never saw another like it. The meteor- 
ologist that watches threads and sashes of fleecy 
clouds, watches forming mist, and rising snow-vapour, 
and descending snow-crystals, watches the tokens of 
to-morrow and the mementoes of yesterday, cannot 
know the atmosphere, for it has no double: in nature 
it stands alone in presence of all human experience. 
Yet are sea and sun and air three of the things best 
known — their being without similars no more render- 
ing them unknown than their being without equals 
renders them small.' 

' The fact that classing is the result of knowledge cannot be more 
clearly implied than in the words of Mr. Spencer : *^ When we group 
an object with certain others, we do so because in some or all of its 
characters it resembles them." — Prin, of Psych,^ § 310. 



260 AGNOSTICISM. 



If, then, things which in nature are so knowable, and 
in human experience are so universally known, are, 
nevertheless, on Agnostic principles unknowable, we 
need not be surprised to find that in the first place 
the mind of man, and in the second place the Creator 
of all things, are so likewise. 

Having now before us two fixed points in the 
Agnosticism of Mr. Spencer — first, that all things are 
unknowable except when at least two exist which 
may be compared ; and secondly, that the lowest 
conceivable degree of knowledge is that resulting 
from a comparison made between two — we have some 
light upon what he counts for the opposite of know- 
ledge : it is lack of power to class a thing. The 
classable is the knowable ; the unclassable is the 
unknowable. The principal use of this canon, as we 
have already intimated, is to make a clear end of 
attempts to know One who is always and ever One ; 
of Him who is alone, and beside Him, or like Him, 
there is not another. " The First Cause, the Infinite, 
the Absolute, to be known at all, must be classed.'"* 
To be knoivn at all : that is not equivocal language. 
Denying that He can be known at all, is very differ- 
ent from denying that He can be known to perfection. 
The First Cause cannot be classed, ergo the First 
Cause cannot be known at all ! The sun cannot be 
classed, the atmosphere cannot be classed ; and yet 

* First Prin,^ p. 8l. 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 261 

nothing is more truly known than the sun and the 
air, though nothing exists of which by searching we 
more truly learn that we cannot find out all. 

This canon which puts not only the Creator into 
the class of things unknowable, but also sun, and sea, 
and air, would have sufficed for Mr. Spencer when 
placing in that class also Space and Time. They are 
both absolutely unclassable. But, for some reason, it 
is a different proof that is resorted to in their case. 

V. — Why Space and Time are Unktunvable, 

We might fancy that we knew time as told off for 
us by the pulsing of the blood in our veins, or by the 
coming up of the successive suns ; that we knew space 
as marked out for us by our own persons, houses, 
fields ; by air, and sea, and stars. But it is all, like 
so many other things, an illusion. They are both 
unknowable. And on what grounds ? For the solemn 
reason that a thing cannot be known but by knowing 
its attributes ; and time and space not having any 
attributes, we cannot, of course, know them. You 
may have grown up with the idea that an ordinary 
prerequisite to knowledge of the attributes of any 
particular thing was some knowledge of the thing 
itself. Perhaps you may have in certain cases even 
found that your knowledge of the thing had been of 
some standing before its most significant attributes 

S 2 



252 AGNOSTICISM. 



became clearly defined to your view. Perhaps you 
may have gone so far as to share in the prejudice 
inveterate in popular English philosophy, which holds 
that the way to a knowledge of the attributes of any 
particular pudding is to make acquaintance with the 
pudding itself Still you must submit to learn that 
you shall first know the attributes, and then commence 
to know the thing ; and, moreover, that space cannot 
have any attributes. Knowledge by description is, of 
course, knowledge of attributes ; knowledge by obser- 
vation is knowledge of the thing itself, bringing with 
it instantly knowledge of some attributes, the more 
obvious ones, and subsequently knowledge of others, 
the more hidden. 

We have already seen Space defined as synony- 
mous with extension. But all definitions formed out 
of such antecedent knowledge as you possess of 
attributes before ever you know the thing itself, 
while prodigiously convenient as facilitating welcome 
conclusions, are subject to a certain compressibility. 
Space is a second time defined — that is, by incidental 
definition — ^as " unoccupied extension," so changing 
its character. In this new light, " occupied extension, 
or Body," ^ is not space, for it has the attribute of 
resistance. If wherever any body exists, space ceases 

J First Priuny §63. "Occupied extension, or Body, being distin- 
guished in consciousness from unoccupied extension, or Sfxice, by its 
resistance, this attribute must clearly have precedence in the genesis 
of the idea." 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT. 253 



to exist, one would admit that there it would have no 
attributes. But to call occupied extension Body, is 
to put the contained for the container. An occupied 
house is not a tenant. And a body is as much the 
occupier in space, as is the tenant in a tenement. 
When Mr. Spencer first makes extension identical 
with space, and then reduces space to unoccupied 
extension, making occupied extension not identical 
with but distinguished from it, as being identical with 
body, he does indeed bewilder his reader ; but he 
does not prove even that space has no attributes ; 
much less does he prove that it is unknowable. 
Knowable it is, and known ; known to consciousness, 
known to experience, known with a knowledge 
verifiable by reason, and verifiable by every one of 
the senses. 

Both the principle that it is only when similars can 
be compared that we can attain to even the lowest 
conceivable degree of knowledge, and the principle 
that what we cannot class we cannot know at all, 
when patiently applied to facts, do not fit on to them 
with the elasticity of a true generalization, and soon 
become overstretched and rend. The theory that 
the unciassable is unknowable is bom of an inversion 
of facts. It is quite true that all things we are able 
to class are things which we know ; but it does not 
follow that all things which we know are things we 
are able to class. A similar inversion gives origin 



254 AGNOSTICISM, 



to the idea that we cannot know a thing except by 
first knowing its attributes. Knowing by observation 
the attributes of a thing, even in the least degree, 
presupposes a knowledge of the thing itself, but a 
knowledge of the thing itself in the least degree does 
not /r^-suppose any knowledge of its attributes. 
One can easily conceive of a person who has known 
Mr. Spencer for twenty years, who can describe 
his person, dress, and carriage, and who yet shall 
have no knowledge, or next to none, of his modes 
of thought and processes of mind. But even the 
modicum of knowledge of attributes — height, com- 
plexion, voice, and so on — presupposes a direct 
knowledge of his person. 

This naturally leads us to another point in what 
Mr. Spencer sets before us as the opposite of 
knowledge. 

VI. — Is Ability to Picture the Fonn t/ie Only Test of 

Knowledge ? 

Inability in any case to form what he calls a con- 
ception, that is, — and I do not caricature,— a 
picture in our minds of any object bodily, amounts 
in his view to n on -knowledge, is utter ignorance, 
is the absence of a cognition. Now, let us take 
the person supposed a moment ago, one who can 
make in his mind a fair picture of Mr. Spencer, 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT. 255 



who, indeed, cannot help carrying such a picture with 
him, ready to show itself whenever called up, but 
who, nevertheless, does not know a chapter of his 
works, has no conception of the extent of his 
knowledge, and could not guess how he would think 
or argue on this question or on the other. Side by 
side with this person set another who never saw Mr. 
Spencer, who does not know whether he is tall or 
short, handsome or plain-looking, fashionably dressed 
or unfashionably ; but who knows his views, his style, 
his habits of thought, his powers of mind, and moral 
sympathies. Which of the two has the cognition of 
Mr. Spencer that most nearly approaches to an 
adequate one ? Obviously the latter. Yet he can 
make no picture of him in his mind. And what if 
he cannot ? The form and colours of Mr. Spencer's 
person and dress may almost be said to be neither here 
nor there in the knowledge of him. The idea to form 
of him in your mind is a conception of powers of 
intellect, habits of thought, and kinds of feeling. No 
one of these is a thing for pictures of "its top, its 
sides, and its under surface at the same time." Picture 
Mr. Spencer's top, his sides, and his under surface to 
the most minute perfection, and you are a strange 
philosopher if you take that for any respectable 
conception of him. We saw at the outset that such 
picturing did not yield even a fair knowledge of a 
piece of rock ; but when you come to a man, to an 



266 AGNOSTICISM, 



author, to a philosopher, the idea of the power to 
picture his appearance as being anything but the 
mere husk of knowledge, and mere knowledge of the 
husk, is laughable. 

Just as knowledge of a figure is gained by observ- 
ing its form and colour through the eye, so is know- 
ledge of an intelligent agent gained by observing his 
works through the mind. Stare at Mr. Spencer's 
books ; finger, taste, smell them ; and you obtain no 
knowledge of him. Read them without a previous 
knowledge of English, and you obtain no knowledge 
of him. Read them with a poor knowledge of 
English, and no knowledge of science or philosophy, 
and you gain but glimmering lights on him and his 
ways. Read them with considerable knowledge but 
distracted attention, and the result is little different. 
Read them with both knowledge and attention, and 
then you observe Mr. Spencer, and draw knowledge of 
him from actual observation of how he thinks and 
feels, as seen in how he writes. This observation is 
not of shape and hue, not of things capable of being 
numbered and measured, but of the invisible powers 
of a soul, as manifested in what it produces. His dog 
can get the knowledge of him that comes by observa- 
tion, if observation means looking at him. But of the 
true observation, that of his mind and thought, only 
man or higher than man is capable. 

If there is one kind of inability to class a thing 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT. Ih' 

which springs from want of knowledge, there is a 
second kind which springs from the unique character 
of the object, and in this case the inability becomes 
more and more confirmed in proportion as greater 
acquaintance with the object brings further knowledge 
of its attributes. If a master totally new to a school 
cannot tell into which class he should put a new 
pupil, it is because he knows neither boy nor class. 
But even after he has become acquainted with the 
classes, he cannot class a new boy until after he has 
examined him or learned his antecedents. The cause 
of inability here is obviously want of knowledge. 
But it is another matter when a master perfectly 
acquainted with his classes, on examining a new boy, 
finds him immeasurably ahead of any class in the 
school, so that to place him in any of them would be 
to declass him, and if he is to be rightly placed he 
must be made a class by himself. In this case the 
inability to class is not due to defect of knowledge ; 
for it is the fruit of knowledge. It arises solely from 
the unique character of the object known. And the 
fact of an object being unique in its character, instead 
of raising an obstacle to knowledge, offers a stimulus 
to it, as we saw in the case of amber. "I know 
nothing like it," is a reason for seeking to know more 
of it, and that whether the "nothing like it" is 
absolute or only means nothing of the same kind 
equal to it. 



258 AGNOSTICISM. 



The most fatal form of inability to class is that 
which arises from inability to know. Let the school- 
master call his porter and ask him to class the new 
boy. He may, as quickly as the master, take know- 
ledge of his "top, his sides, and his under surface," but 
of his learning he knows nothing and he has no 
means of testing it ; he cannot touch, taste, or handle 
it. Ask many a man who could readily class one 
of Mr. Spencer s volumes as an octavo or a quarto, as 
unbound or in cloth, to class one of his arguments, say- 
ing whether it is a syllogism, a sorites, or an enthy- 
meme ; and if a syllogism, of what figure and mood. 
He would be destitute of the means of conjecturing 
what you intended ; he could only say that he thought 
it a strong argument or a weak one. This answer, 
however, would be in itself proof that he was not 
"totally ignorant'' of the argument; proof that he had 
seen it, observed it, judged respecting it ; proof, in 
fact, of practical knowledge — of a state of things far 
removed from nescience. 

So unsettled is Mr. Spencer in his view of what 
knowledge consists in, that after he has in one place 

Mr. spettcer given three successive definitions of 
Defines Life and ijfg^ ^^ [^ other places describes " cog- 

Describes 

Kn<nviedge in the "ition " and " intelligence " in almost 

Same Terms. the same words adopted as the 

ultimate and thoroughly clarified definition of life 

itself The latter is defined as being the continuous 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT, 269 

adjustment of internal relations to external rela- 
tions.' In another place we read : " Every act of 
Intelligence being, in essence, an adjustment of 
inner to outer relations."^ And again, in respect 
of knowledge we are told that " Whenever a group 
of inner relations, or cognition, is completely con- 
formed to a group of outer relations, or phenomenon, 
by a rational process — ^whenever there is what we 
call an understanding of the phenomena."^ Thus, 
then, adjustment of inner to outer relations is 
an act of intelligence, and adjustment of internal to 
external relations is life itself Life being as much 
the property of a lichen as of a botanist, if the acts 
of intelligence of the latter are only such as can be 
correctly described in terms which suffice to describe 
the life of the lichen, we may answer for it that 
he will never observe, describe, or classify either 
plants or seeds. 

Mr. Spencer has a partiality for what he calls 
a definition. And so things called definitions are 
erected into axioms to which, once asserted or 
assumed, all subsequent proof and disproof must 
conform. The method of describing by the lowest 
term is the one that seems to preside over the birth of 
these extraordinar}' productions. That method is 
good for classifying in which the object is to general- 
ize, but it ruins definition in which the object is to 

I Prin, of Psychology^ § 131. " Same, § 174. ^ Same, { 168. 



260 AGNOSTICISM. 



specialize. Instead of basing his definition on the 
genus, Mr. Spencer, like Cotnte, seems to think it 
better to base it upon the summum genus. If we 
define a European not as a man born in Europe but 
as an animal born in Europe, or, better still, as an 
organism native to Europe, we may have some idea of 
the principle on which things called definitions arc 
framed, — the principle of defining by rendering your 
term indefinite, so as to include things which it would 
exclude if left to define itself. According, then, to the 
thrice-refined definition of life, it is an " adjustment" 

VI I. — What IS an Adjustment? 

And what is an adjustment ? Is it a person who 
adjusts ? Is it things which are adjusted ? Neither. 
Is it an operation which results from the adjustment, 
for the sake of which, indeed, it was made? No. It 
is one of two things : either the act of a person who 
adjusts things, or the state of the things which are 
being or have been adjusted. It is a word full of the 
idea of design and intelligent control when interpreted 
by human experience ; experience of cases in which 
the origin and process of a given adjustment have 
not to be groped after in the dark of utter non- 
experience, but are clearly traceable in ascertained 
facts. "A r^«//>i«<?w.r adjustment" The adjustment of 
the motions of a chronometer to those of the earth and 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT, 261 

sun is continuous. The adjustments of eating and 
drinking are intermittent, those of sleep periodical. 
What was the ctmtinuous adjustment of a grain of 
com to outer relations when, entombed with a mummy, 
it retained its hidden life for ages ? Adjustment 
of internal relations to external relatiofis ! internal 
and external to what ? to a vacuum, to a corpse, to 
a cavern, to a universe, or to a single organism ? the 
definition affords us no hint. It is plain that Mr. 
Spencer means in the one case internal to an organism, 
that is, a living body, and therefore external to its 
environment, and that in the other case he means 
internal to the environment and external to the living 
body : for necessarily the terms exchange places 
according to the case. Here, then, the adjustment pre- 
supposes first a living thing, or organism ; secondly, 
it presupposes an element or environment in which 
and on which this organism can live ; and thirdly, it 
presupposes a set of relations already established 
within the living thing and another set of relations 
established within the environment, each set being 
external to the other. They must be each external to 
the other : for it is between these that the adjustment 
has to be originated and preserved as continuous. But 
liberal as is this grant of pre-existing things, the defi- 
nition makesastill larger one. It grants the adjustment 
itself as pre-existing to life : for " continuous " can 
never mean the continuing of what has not yet been 



262 AGNOSTICISM. 



begun ; so the continuing dates from a moment subse- 
quent to the making of the adjustment This pre- 
existence, implied in the word ** continuous," becomes 
almost explicit when two sets of relations are spoken 
of. The adjustment is between relations within the 
living thing and relations within the lifeless environ- 
ment Good relations are themselves the effect of 
adjustments ; the relation of blood and lungs within 
an animal and that of air and heat without it are 
both the effects of adjustments. Rut the essential 
point is a third adjustment between these two. That 
is provided in breathing. That adjustment once 
established, its marvellous effect is a continuous re- 
adjustment. The original adjustment was not in any 
proper sense continuous, for it was antecedent, made 
once for all, like an organ before the discharge of a 
function. Without readjustment, both continuous and 
ever varying, the original adjustment would fail of 
effect In the case of the grain of mummy corn the 
Life Invoives aboriginal adjustment was valid, and sur- 
PowerofCon- vived ; but it was not supplemented by a 

tinuous Self . 

Readjust- contmuous readjustment, and so the very 
ment. things which are often spoken of as the 
constituents of life were absent — absorption, growth, 
waste, reproduction. Yet Life was not absent. Life 
abode in the non-absorbing, non-growing, non- 
wasting, non-reproducing body, and abode in it 
for ages. That Life carried in it a capability of all 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT, 263 



these, carried a power to ensure all these, given the 
proper readjustments in the environment. 

A loom with its many internal relations has an 
adjustment of these to external relations. When it is a 

Illustration ^^^^^^ loom such relations are extremely 
of a complex, and the adjustment of them is 
ij)om. wonderfully made. This adjustment is all 
antecedent, by necessity antecedent, to the blowing 
of a single rose on the textile flower bed. The first 
throw of the shuttle calls for a readjustment ; and 
that readjustment must proceed in an unbroken 
succession. But whence does it proceed ? from the 
internal relations of the loom ? from the external 
relations of the design ? or from the " act of intelli- 
gence" of one who presides educing results about 
which neither loom nor design knows anything? 
Every line of the pattern as it comes out, produced 
by motions which to one ignorant of the process often 
seem contradictory and confused, bears witness to 
knowledge, to foreknowledge, and to power of trans- 
ferring from mind forms conceived within it, and 
impressing them upon refractory matter. Directed 
by this power, lifeless processes are made to evolve 
semblances of life, substances having no sense of 
beauty are made to evolve forms that charm, surfaces 
that never felt or smiled are made to vivify with new 
elements of pleasure the relations between the lily of 
the field and the human soul. 



264 AGNOSTICISM. 



The process of " intelligence," or " understanding," 
or " knowing/* as seen by Mr. Spencer, would appear 
to be only the shadow from the under side of nature 
in action. He sees in every act of intelligence an 
adjustment, and that is the " essence " of it. Nature 
shows to us in every adjustment an act of intelligence, 
and that is the essence of it. Every adjustment 
between the inward parts of a human frame and the 
outward parts of nature, as distinctly speak of a pre- 
siding Ruler as do stalks, leaves, and petals coming 
up in order and arranging themselves in their proper 
relations on a web speak of a presiding mind ; a 
mind unseen to warp or woof, to reed or treadle ; a 
mind which as to its higher resources and processes 
is past finding out even for the weaver who guides the 
loom ; a mind that could fore-ordain and coordain. 
could fix where in the executing of its plan should be 
the place of inorganic agents, that of organic fibres, 
that of physical forces, and that of the mindful hand of 
man. The punctured cards displayed no flowers, yet 
they insured their appearance in the web, — so were 
they coordained with other elements alien to them. 
The shuttle carried no forms, only artless thread, yet 
every time it flew, complex figures advanced a step; 
so were its motions and its charge coordained with 
other elements of motion, matter, and thought. 

But the master-mind here had no more power to 
give to one part of the loom, or to the total combina- 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 265 

tion of machines composing it, the gift of self-repair 
or self-adjustment, than it had of giving to the mill 
" hand " the power of inventing the loom, or of 
conceiving the designs. The loom that can grow 
with exercise, the loom that can right a tangle by 
simply going on, the loom that again by simply going 
on can restore a part worn or torn away, the loom 
that can engender ten looms out of one, is unknow- 
able to mortal inventors. The loom that we know 
preaches of Mind invisibly impressing its conceptions 
on matter by processes which an animal might well 
suppose to be the whole of what was in operation ; 
processes in which, so far as we have any means of 
ascertaining, no mind inferior to that of the being who 
made the loom and works it could trace the ever- 
present ascendency and determining power of the 
human soul. In every ring and rattle of the process, 
in every fitness and utility of the fabric produced, I 
hear the testimony that each adjustment is an act of 
intelligence, and that intelligence dwells not in un- 
conscious things and unconscious motions, but in a 
thinking Being. I hear also the further testimony 
that only a being standing on some approach to a 
level with the Author of a grand process can properly 
trace the Author's part in it; albeit even a very 
inferior animal might surmise that processes above 
his power proceed from a being above his degree. 
It was necessary to glance at this peculiarity 

T 



266 AGNOSTICISM 



whereby intelligence and life are described in 
similar terms. 

But although this, with other such vacillations, 
indicates a certain hesitancy as to which view 
of knowledge is the one really to hold by, Mr. 
Spencer's prevalent conception of what knowledge 
consists in manifestly is composed of the two 
elements, the power of picturing objects, and that 
of classifying them. 

VIII. — Knowing by Sight and Knowing by Mind. 

Other languages employ two distinct words to 
denote two modes of knowing, for which in English 
we have only one name. We say, I know an astron- 
omer, and we say, I know astronomy. In saying 
this an Italian, a German, or a Frenchman, would not 
repeat the same word in the second case ; but would 
use two words, indicating a difference between know- 
ing by sight an object of sense — a person, and 
knowing by process of mind an object of thought — a 
science. The astronomer being a person, an object of 
sense, knowing him means knowing him by sight ; 
astronomy being an object of thought, a group of truths, 
knowing it means knowing the truths of it by mental 
processes. Knowledge by sight of the astronomer 
may or may not be connected with deeper knowledge 
through mental processes ; knowledge by mental 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 267 

process of astronomy may or may not be connected 
with certain visual observations. As to objects of 
sense, we know them in such a manner that on seeing 
we can recognise them, and without seeing we can 
more or less picture them in our mind's eye. As to 
objects of thought, when they are not objects of 
sense, we know them in such manner that when they 
are named the name suggests to us a definite idea of 
the object, and without their being named, we can of 
ourselves call up the same definite idea of them. 
" He knows Sir John Herschel " means he has seen 
and could recognise him. " He knows Kepler's 
laws " means he has learned and could recall them. 

For two really different assertions — " I have seen 
and could recognise " on the one hand, and " I have 
learned and could recall to mind " on the other — we 
employ only one and the same word, '* I know." 
For the first an Italian would use the word conoscere^ 
and for the second sapere ; a German for the first 
kennen^ for the second wissen ; a Frenchman for the 
first connattrey for the second savoir. These notable 
differences in language intimate a real difference in 
the two cases, and keep alive the consciousness of it. 
This difference is not only real but considerable. 
"I have seen and could recognise" may imply no 
more than superficial knowledge, yet it does imply 
observation by sense ; 'while " I have learned and 
could recall " may imply deep knowledge, though it 

T 2 



268 AGNOSTICISM, 



does not necessarily imply observation by sense. 
This distinction and its effect on thought we lose in 
English, yet we have forms which intimate it We 
may say : " I know him, but I know nothing about 
him ;" or, ** I do not know him, but I know all about 
him." In the first case the knowledge is direct, by 
sense ; but it is of mere shape, colour, and gait. 
In the second case it is indirect, by considering his 
productions, or by testimony of persons or documents ; 
and it may be knowledge of the man to the core. 
The most important knowledge is ordinarily the 
knowledge about a thing, and it is only in the case of 
a thing that is of no importance but for its shape, 
size, and colour that the knowledge of these yielded 
by sight is the main portion of our knowledge about 
the object. 

It is between these two kinds of knowing that 
Mr. Spencer's views oscillate. His " conception," or 
picturing of a rock, is mere knowing appearance by 
sight ; his classing an individual object with those to 
which it properly pertains, on the contrary, pre- 
supposes knowledge about both it and them. He 
makes no point towards proving that either one or 
the other kind of knowledge is nescience. Neither 
of them is so or can be. 

Sense-cognizance, say of a piece of rock, is no more 
nescience than it is complete knowledge. Classifying 
cognizance is no more complete knowledge than 



KNOWING A THING AND NOT KNOWING IT 269 



it is nescience. Neither of these represents a perfect 
accord between our idea of any given object and all 
points in the nature and capabilities of that object ; 
but no more does either of them represent falsity in 
such ideas of it as we may have formed with due 
care and checks, much less does either represent a 
total absence of accord between such ideas and ex- 
ternal relations. When Mr. Spencer describes acts of 
intelligence as adjustments of inner relations to outer 
relations, he means that our ideas of objects answer 
to the nature of the objects ; and what he calls ad- 
justing internal relations to it is what we ordinary 
mortals call forming a just idea of it. He speaks 
of inner relations being " completely conformed " to 
outer relations, and of every attribute necessarily 
involved in the phenomena having " its internal 
representative." All which seems to point to absolute 
knowledge, but is not so intended. But it is utterly 
inconsistent with nescience. It means knowing, and 
knowing truly in a practical sense. Mr. Spencer 
seems to accept power to picture in mind the form 
and colour of an object as the true and adequate type 
of knowledge. Yet he insists that lack of complete 
knowledge is equivalent to lack of any. Each of 
these two confusions is prolific of other confusions. 
To clear them up it will be desirable to spend a little 
time in dwelling upon the question whether all our 
knowledge is not partial and at the same time real. 



270 AGNOSTICISM. 



In raising such a question one feels as if going 
downwards ! but we are obliged to raise it. It is a 
question which lies at the root of a right understanding 
of Agnosticism, and, in presence of the doctrine of 
nescience, at the root also of any right assertion of 
either science or faith. 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 271 



CHAPTER IV. 

IS NOT ALL OUR KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, AND YET 

REAL? 

In his chapter on the Substance of Mind, a very 
curious one, Mr. Spencer begins by saying : " To write 
a chapter for the purpose of showing that nothing is 
known, or can be known, of the subject which the title 
of the chapter indicates will be thought strange."' He 
would be an unaccountable critic who should reckon 
as strange anything that might be said on the par- 
ticular subject of knowing and not knowing by Mr. 
Herbert Spencer. One's only course is to take each 
assertion of a general principle as one finds it, each 
treatment of a particular case as one finds it, each im- 
plication as one finds it, each assumed definition and 
each formal definition as one finds it ; and to go on in 
one's own way. This is what most will do after dis- 
covering how much and how little is to be gained by 
making classified groups of Spencerian utterances, and 
how much and how little any general rules guide our 
author in his methods of pushing conclusions. 

1 Prin, of Psychology, § 58. 



272 AGNOSTICISM. 



I. — The Position tJiat ^^ Nothing Can Be Ktzown of 

the Substance of Mind," 

In the case above quoted the phrase is " nothing 
is known, or can be known," of the substance of Mind. 
That is definite. Not only does it assert that we do 
not know what the substance of mind is, but that we 
do not and cannot know anything of it or about it ; — 
a widely different matter. I do not know Mr. Spencer, 
but I can know and do know something about him. 
I do hot know the substance of his mind, but I do 
know something about it, for I know at least some of 
its attributes, by knowing its productions ; and even an 
Agnostic will find it hard to say that knowledge of 
some of the attributes of a substance is the same thing 
as knowing nothing about it ; or, in other words, that 
partial knowledge is no knowledge, or that partial 
knowledge is not real knowledge. 

Speaking of what may be meant by the phrase 
" substance of mind," as distinguished from what, in his 
own vocabulary, is called its portions, — "each portion 
that is separable by introspection, but seems homo- 
geneous and undecomposable,"' Mr. Spencer says : If 
the phrase substance of mind " is taken to mean the 
underlying something of which these distinguishable 
portions are formed, or of which they are modifications, 
then we know nothing about it, and never can know 

\Prin. of Psychology y § 58. 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 273 

anything about it." Mark, he does not say we do not 
know what the substance is, and cannot know it ; but 
we do not know anything about it, and cannot If so, 
we do not know its portions. Yet he has just spoken 
of its portions as being objects of introspection ; as 
being distinguishable ; yea, as being separable, that is, 
as being discerned and classified, ergo known. More- 
over, he says, in that clear English of which he is as 
capable as he is of the wonderful word-web he mostly 
delights to weave, that if by the phrase substance 
of mind we mean these portions, *' then we do know 
something of the substance of mind, and may know 
more." Here is a clear implication that knowledge is 
perfectly compatible with partial knowledge, and that 
partial knowledge is real knowledge ; not only real, 
but also the dawn of brighter knowledge. This simple 
elementary truth turns whole tracts of what the 
disciples of Mr. Spencer call by the noble name of 
philosophy into something else. 

As to the mere language of what we have been 
quoting, it is not looser than of wont. A substance 
/Xwj a underlies its portions ! it underlies its attri- 
Subsuuue butes, its proportions, its phenomena ; but 
*r Comtituu ^^ Constitutes its portions. Granite under- 
iu Portions? lies Other rocks, but granite constitutes 
any portion of granite rocks. The substance of 
these rocks underlies all their properties and phe- 
nomena. A portion is separable, and carries with 



274 AGNOSTICISM. 

it substance, property, and phenomena. A property 
or phenomenon is not separable, but becomes possible 
only when the substance exists which underlies it, and 
in which alone it has its being. Then, again, we have 
"a portion" as synonymous with a modification of the 
substance ! It is not so : a portion is the same sub- 
stance in the same state as another portion ; there 
may be modification with portioning or without it, 
and there may be portioning without modification of 
substance. Indeed, when once any modification of 
substance takes place, it is not mere portioning. Two 
goldsmiths shall respectively portion out two halves 
of the same ingot ; the one does not modify the sub- 
stance, the other does. The portions given out by the 
latter are not any longer gold, but alloyed gold. Let 
it, however, be remarked that Mr. Spencer often speaks 
of a modification of form in the same terms as he 
would use for a modification of substance ; and even 
freely calls that heterogeneous which is only multi- 
form, speaking of increasing heterogeneity where the 
substance remains identical and only form is varied 

II. — Adfnits that we Can Know '^States'* of Mind, 

On the point that our condition as to the substance 
of mind is true nescience — not ignorance in part, but 
total ignorance — Mr. Spencer is clear. ** Absolute 
ignorance of the substance of mind," is his language 
soon following that above noted. Yet in the same 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 276 

sentence he recognises as an underlying truth the 
reality of partial knowledge, and also the fact that we 
can know states of mind; so that we can at the same 
time know states of a substance and be in " absolute 
ignorance " of the substance itself. This flies in the 
face of the principle that to know a thing is to know 
its attributes. That principle, it will be remembered, 
is laid down with the purpose of proving that we can- 
not know space, since it has no attributes. In the 
present case, the purpose is to show that we cannot 
know mind, which confessedly has no lack of them ; 
though we may know states of mind, which are mani- 
festations of attributes. If we know the states, we 
must know more or less of the attributes. If I see that 
a circular band is in a state of rapid contraction after 
having been stretched out and let go, I know that it 
has the attribute of elasticity. Yet this partial know- 
ledge of states and attributes is quietly bound up 
by Mr. Spencer in the same bundle with "absolute 
ignorance " of the substance. From absolute ignorance 
of the substance of mind, he says, " of which all par- 
ticular states are modifications, let us turn to that 
partial knowledge of these particular states, as quali- 
tatively characterized, which lies within our possible 
grasp." Yes, we can turn to partial knowledge of the 
states of mind, as of those of matter ; this is within 
our possible grasp. Of states, as of substance, our 
knowledge is here rightly taken to be no more than 



276 AGNOSTICISM, 



partial. We neither, in fact, know all the states of any 
one substance, nor all the traits involved in any given 
state. Our knowledge of the states of a substance is 
no more absolute than is our ignorance of the sub- 
stance itself; of the state much remains unknown 
amid the known, and of the substance much becomes 
known amid the unknown. 

Partial knowledge extending beyond states, includ- 
ing constituents, is, notwithstanding what has just now 
been quoted, held by Mr. Spencer to be 
Ignorance identical with absolute ignorance. Im- 
of Mind partially applying this principle to both 
mind and matter, he says,* that if we 
could prove that mind consists of homogeneous 
units of feeling, we should be unable to say what 
mind is ; just as we should be unable to say what 
matter is did we succeed in decomposing it into those 
ultimate homogeneous units of which it is not 
improbably composed. " In the one case, as in the 
other, the ultimate unit must remain, for the reasons 
assigned at the outset, absolutely unknown." A bsolutely 
unknown ! proved, yet absolutely unknown ! seen, 
yet absolutely unknown ! for the hypothesis is that 
the ultimate unit in the case of mind has been proved, 
and in that of matter has been found out by analysis, 
that is, seen. The assumption here is startling : that 
the amount of cognizance involved in knowing the 

1 Prin, of Psychology^ § 62. 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 277 

States of a substance, knowing its changes, knowing 
its properties, yea, knowing even its constituent ele- 
ments down to the ultimate unit, is the same thing 
as absolute ignorance. To treat the assumption as 
serious is not easy. The amount of knowledge here 
involved leaves it, indeed, possible for us to ask 
questions about both substance and constituent 
which we cannot answer ; but it also places us in a 
position to answer questions which would confound 
one who was comparatively ignorant, not to speak of 
one in absolute ignorance. But less than absolute 
ignorance will not satisfy Mr. Spencer as to what 
is our condition. Two pages after the words last 
quoted, he tells us respecting matter that the 
conception we form to ourselves of it "is but the 
symbol of some form of Power absolutely and for 
ever unknown to us." 

After this, those timid people who are disturbed 
because God is pronounced to be the Absolute 
Unknowable may surely breathe freely. Matter may 
be a fortn of power, or it may be, as all things seem 
rather to prove, a product of power, but in either case 
it is not absolutely unknown to us even now, much 
less for ever. Our conception of it may be what Mr. 
Spencer calls a symbol, or what he calls a real con- 
ception, — and in the case of an atom the difficulty 
in seeing its top, its sides, and its under-surface at the 
same time does not lie in its being too big, but in its 



278 A GNOSTICISM. 



being so little that we cannot see it at all. But give 
to our conception whatever name you please, it is 
proved by ten thousand tests to be in the main just ; 
proved by ten thousand fruits to be useful ; proved by 
the experience of every moment to be such as any one 
of us can safely act upon, such as the corresponding 
results to any number of different persons will verify. 
This, then, is knowledge ; partial certainly, but consti- 
tuting a state of mind strongly in contrast with any- 
thing that can be justly called absolute ignorance. 

III. — Mr. Spencer's Cases of Complete Knowledge. 

If, on the one hand, we are astonished to find a 
large measure of partial knowledge confounded with 
absolute ignorance, on the other hand we are scarcely 
less astonished to find, in sundry instances, a measure 
of knowledge, obviously no more than partial, some- 
times announced as complete, sometimes as nearly 
so. The reader will recall the assertion that a thing 
is completely known if it has many attributes in com- 
mon with things of which we have had experience; and 
will also recall our piece of rock, mentally represented 
"with something like completeness." It is likewise said 
that if an individual man is mentioned, "a tolerably 
complete idea of him is formed " ; whereas many 
may think that if seeing a unit of matter would leave 
us in absolute ignorance of it, it sometimes happens 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 279 

that, after having been for years in the habit of 
seeing a certain unit of humanity called a man, we 
find that our knowledge of him was only compara- 
tive ignorance. 

This imagined complete knowledge is occasionally 
expressed by Mr. Spencer in terms so broad that, 
cafefuUy weighed, one would hardly think them 
applicable to any knowledge less perfect than that 
of our Creator. For instance, when he is speaking 
of those states of mind, or in his words "tracts of 
consciousness," which men call acts of reasoning, 
which he calls " ratiocinative tracts," acts of reason- 
ing which are about objects of sense, he speaks 
of our conceptions as answering "to the objects 
in all their attributes, and in all their activities.'* 
That is language I could not apply to my own 
knowledge of any single object of sense, not to 
that of the ink I write with, of the pen it flows out 
of, nor yet of the fingers that hold the pen. But lest 
I should seem to overstate the case, I quote at full : 
"Much more heterogeneous still are those tracts of 
consciousness distinguished as ratiocinative tracts, in 
which the multiform feelings given us by objects 
through eyes, ears, and tactual organs, nose, and 
palate, are formed into conceptions that answer to 
the objects in all their attributes and in all their 
activities."' So, therefore, when a grain of musk gives 

1 Prin, of Psychology, § 75. 



280 AGNOSTICISM. 



to one's " ratiocinative tracts," through the nose, a cer- 
tain feeh'ng, that feeling is formed or may be formed by 
the ratiocinative tracts into conceptions which answer 
to musk in all its attributes and in all its activities. 
Alas ! how far behind must my ratiocinative tracts be ! 
Never yet did they, in their utmost self-complacency, 
seem to approach to an adequate knowledge of that 
trifling thing called musk, in some of its attributes 
and some of its activities. 

No, there is no tolerable attention to accuracy in 
describing human cognizance as either the extreme 
of absolute ignorance or the extreme of absolute 
knowledge. It stands in a fitter relation to ourselves. 
Just as we are neither nothingness nor infinity, but 
hover between the two, so is it with our knowledge. 
It makes its way in the open firmament of heaven, 
where reigns neither total darkness nor perfect day ; 
where mom, sufficient for the present advance, foretells 
clear shining that will never cease to grow brighter. 

The doctrine that our condition as to mind or 

matter, as to space or time, as to motion or force, as 

Ottr to the system of the universe and the 

Knowledge existence of our Creator, is a condition of 

Absolute nescience, is in flat contradiction to ex- 

Knowlcdge perience and reason. In these cases, as 

Absolute '" every other, our condition is one of 

Ignorance, partial knowledge. The alternative which 

would confine us to either absolute knowledge 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 281 

or absolute ignorance is one that has no place in 
practical thinking : a mere puzzle for boys at school. 
Fact and nature, reason and Holy Scripture, all 
alike recognize the truth that the knowledge of a 
finite being is knowledge in part, and knowledge 
accompanied by liability to error. 

We know our own mental history, each one for 
himself, the most stupid man knowing more of what 
passes in his own mind than of anything else, and 
knowing much which others can never know. Yet 
who of us has an absolute knowledge of all that has 
passed in his own mind ? who of us would not fail to 
answer some questions on this matter and to solve 
puzzles framed by a skilful hand ? So also we know 
something of the history of our own town or country ; 
but who would engage to meet every inquiry respect- 
ing it of an Agnostic, ingenious in puzzle-making ; 
who, nevertheless, would fail to be amused if told 
that his lack of perfect knowledge was nescience ? So 
with the history of other countries, we neither know 
all about it nor yet nothing about it So with the 
aggregate history of the human race ; who does not 
know something of it, and who does know all ? 

As to places as well as to events, the same rule 

holds good. A farmer would be slow to admit that 

he knew nothing of his farm, and would only laugh 

at the philosopher who put crooked questions which 

no one could answer, and then professed to think that 

U 



282 AGNOSTICISM. 



he who was not prepared on such points had absolutely 
no knowledge of the matter. A ruler knows some- 
thing of his own country; and yet one could ask 
questions of Queen Victoria about the British domin- 
ions, or of Emperor William about Germany, or of 
Presidents Cleveland and Gr^vy about America and 
France, which they would not be ashamed or surprised 
that they could not answer, though they would be 
amused that any man should imagine that, because 
of this, they were in total ignorance of the subject 

IV. — Knowing What Passes Knmvledge. 

All workers and thinkers have constantly present to 
them, whether explicitly recognized or but dimly felt, 
an experience which has always been in terms familiar 
to Christians : the experience of knowing what passes 
knowledge. The botanist knows the plants ; yet they 
pass his knowledge. The politician knows men, 
opinions, national affairs ; yet they pass his know- 
ledge. The scholar knows languages ; yet they pass 
his knowledge. The mariner knows the sea, the 
naturalist knows the animals, the physicist knows 
the forces, the engineer knows machines, the doctor 
knows the human frame, the meteorologist knows the 
winds, the astronomer knows the stars ; yet every 
one of these in his own case is conscious that, though 
in comparison with common men he is familiar 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 283 

with his subject, it nevertheless passes his knowledge. 
Tell him that he is totally ignorant of it, and he will 
smile. Tell him, on the other hand, that he knows it 
perfectly, and, if he is superficial and self-conceited, 
he may almost agree with you — ^yet, with this inter- 
pretation in a half-latent consciousness, that he knows 
more than others, ats much as passes for superior 
knowledge ; but if he is deep and earnest, probably, 
instead of agreeing with you, he will feel, — More 
remains unknown than I yet know. We are not 
made to be non-knowers, as the stones are. We are 
made to know ; because we are made in the image of 
God. We are not made to know to perfection ; because 
we are not God. We are neither nescient nor omnis- 
cient If we close not our eyes, if we let in the light 
of nature, of events, of reason, we know the existence 
of a Creator and Preserver, and in knowing it feel 
how far He passes all our knowledge. If drawing 
nigh, and yet nigher, seeking the light of the Spirit of 
God, we know the love of Christ, again do we learn 
that it passeth knowledge. 

V. — Is Knowledge Real or Illusive ? 

The fact being established that all our knowledge, 

even of ordinary things, is partial, next arises the 

question whether it is real, or is an illusion. Here 

consciousness, experiment, and reason combine in 

U 2 



284 AGNOSTICISM. 



signifying to us that human knowledge is true know- 
ledge, as far as it goes ; just as the knowledge of the 
lower animals is true, as far as it goes. It is no 
matter at all whether migratory birds are idealists or 
realists; or, whether they do or do not divide the 
whole world into the south and the not-south. If 
they are idealists, and look on both south and north 
as only forms of bird-thought, it is true that to 
them all things are in the ultimate analysis bird • 
but it does not follow that really all things are bird. 
If they are realists, and hold south and north to be 
no birds, nor the ideal creation of birds, but actual 
things altogether outside of bird and bird-world, even 
then all things are to them bird, and not-bird. In 
this case nothing exists to compare with not-bird, for 
the only other thing which does exist is bird, and it 
is not of the same class, but is alien from not-bird. 
The philosophic facts being indisputable, if the birds 
choose, they may say not-bird is unknowable ; because 
there is nothing to class it with. Let them say it. 
They cannot live by it. They do know season, and 
south and north, and a way in the air, and steer a 
correct course through seas of azure unsurveyed. 
We see that they know : their action proves their 
knowledge. How does that knowledge come? in 
what does it consist? how far is it conscious or 
unconscious ? can we by searching find it out ? 
"Whence cometh wisdom? and where is the place ot 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 286 

understanding ?"* Having asked your questions, be 
still for a time, still in the silent presence of the 
Fountain of Wisdom Eternal ; and then confess : 
" It is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close 
from the fowk of the air. . . . God understandeth 
the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof."^ 

This allusion to birds reminds me of the value, as 
well as the beauty, of those contributions to sound 
know^ledge and clear thought made by the Duke 
of Argyll, especially in his last and noblest work. 
The Unity of Nature, 

As with migratory birds, so with other orders of 
the animal kingdom, we see that such knowledge as 
they possess, call it instinctive, intuitional, or inferred, 
has in every case special features, peculiar to that 
order of creature, serviceable for its distinctive uses ; 
while side by side with this special element in 
each particular race runs the common element of 
identical impressions, those of all animals of a given 
object being practically identical. 

Partial as is the knowledge of a lamb, insufficient 
as it would be for the uses of a swallow or a pilchard. 

Reality of ^^ ^^ ^^^^ knowledge, and knowledge 
Knowledge in directly adapted to the present and the 

Animals, ^^^^^.^ ^f ^ ^^^^^ jj^^ ^^^^ ^^^^^ ^j 

things meets your eye wherever it turns — whether to 
the creeping thing under your feet, or the shoals 

' f<^ xxviii. 20. ' Ibid, 21-23. 



286 AGNOSTICISM. 



darkening the waters of the bay, to the dog by your 
side, or the fowls in the air. The animated races 
are blessed with knowledge in degrees endlessly 
varied ; knowledge in one creature of what is un- 
known to another; yet accompanied by ignorance 
of what is known to the other — by more than 
ignorance of it, by inability to learn it ; — knowledge 
always turning both downwards and upwards, both 
to objects below the creature — inert, lifeless, inferior, 
yet essential to it — and to objects above the creature, 
objects v/ith which it has to deal, and which it cannot 
either annihilate or ignore. 

However special to a given race may be its know- 
ledge and powers, somehow the exercise of them 
serves uses important to other races, uses not with- 
out a bearing on the universal system of living 
beings. 

As contrasted with our own, the instinctive know- 

Animals c ^^^&^ ^^ animals is remarkable for its ma- 

Acquire turity at birth, and equally so for its limited 

Knowledge, po^y^j. Qf subsequent increase. Power of 

increase there is; but the limits of that power are 
narrow, just as are at birth the limits of actual know- 
ledge in our race. A dipper a few hours old in the 
woods of Inverary knows of some things essential for 
both dipper and Duke to know, much more than does 
at the same age an heir of all the lore of the castle. 
But coming into life apparently isolated from the 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 287 

lights of the past, and even from the relations of the 

present, our human child brings with it a portentous 

capacity of the future. The starlight which shines 

into the eye of the young nightingale has travelled 

during as many years as that which awakes the first 

nocturnal observations of a boy. But to its latest 

day the nightingale has never learned how far the 

beautiful beams have come, or in how large a system 

it enjoys its appointed place. That place is to sing, 

and not to increase in wisdom and understanding. The 

boy, on the other hand, may go onward for eighty 

years from the time when he first crowed at the sight 

of the stars, adding to his knowledge every day, not 

only of them, but of other things. And at the end 

he may feel that he is only beginning to know the 

rudiments of what he is capable of knowing. 

Slight, however, as is the power of augmenting the 
original stock of knowledge in the lower animals, that 
power does include capacity of receiving instruction, 
both from their own race and from beings of a higher 
nature. This power of acquiring and receiving know- 
ledge lifts them above all mere vegetable life, and the 
knowledge imparted, whether by instruction from an 
equal or from a superior being, is real knowledge. 
When learned from those of its own race, the know- 
ledge serves the ends of the animal ; when learned 
from those of a higher race, it elevates the animal 
and at the same time answers the design of the 



288 AGNOSTICISM. 



trainer. It is no more illusion either to the animal or 
the trainer than it is nescience. 

Horse and dog, parrot and carrier-pigeon, bear and 
monkey, falcon and bullfinch, all show that lessons 
from man are not lost upon them ; but are of force 
to impart to them abilities not to be acquired from 
members of their own species. Such new abilities 
prove that their mind can respond to a higher one so 
far as to rise to knowledge and action which were not 
taught by nature, and could not be taught by their 
own race. Any person who has once happened to 
stand among picketed cavalry horses when the signal 
sounded for evening corn knows how they make the 
welkin ring with testimony that to them those notes 
are no uncertain sound; but that they convey to steed, 
as clearly as to trooper, the knowledge of " what 
is piped and harped." This their knowledge is not 
illusion. It is working cognizance. It bears witness 
to the truthfulness of nature in its modes of revealing 
to their inward feeling what concerns them in the 
outer world. It bears witness also to the actuality of 
their relations with man. It makes manifest his 
ability to reveal his own mind to their mind accord- 
ing to the capacity of the latter. It proves that 
within the limits of that capacity he can enrich them 
with knowledge of his purpose and his music. And 
thus the concurrence of two creatures so dissimilar 
—concurrence shared in by many other races — in 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 289 

recognizing the same facts by the same signs, or in 
responding to them in ways analogous, affords a 
verification overwhelming in evidence of the com- 
mon origin of mind, as well as of the coordination 
of different orders of agents under one supreme 
fountain of order. 

Is there a touch of irony when the prophet, speak- 
ing of the ox, says that he knows his oivner^ but when 
Ox and Speaking of the ass does not set him so 
^^^' high — he knows his master's crib? Even 
if there is, although the ass so pictured has made 
progress on the way downwards towards Agnosticism, 
he is not as yet nescient. He still does know ; if it 
is only the crib where he finds his fodder. To know 
the crib, and not to know the hand that filled it; to 
know the fodder, and not to know the care and skill 
out of which it came ; to know the field, and not to 
know the Owner of field, of grass, and beast, and man ; 
to know the agents and their coordinations, and not to 
know an ordaining Principal; to know their relations, 
and not to know a combining Will which links this 
to that; to know the cooperation of world with world, 
of body with void, of distance with proximity, of force 
with resistance, of motion with inertia and rest, of life 
with things lifeless and mind with things mindless — by 
which cooperation we are fed and enabled to renew our 
strength — and not to know Him at whose command 
all these work together for our good, does seem to be 



290 AGNOSTICISM. 



the poorest ambition of obscurantism, of those who 
" rebel against the light/' 

Nature testifies that knowledge in the animals is 
real, and distinctive in different classes. It is real, 
whether it is knowledge at birth of what they never 
learned, whether it is what their parents taught them, 
or whether it is what they picked up by experience. 
It is real, when it has been imparted by man. And 
does not man himself know, who can so impart 
knowledge to inferior creatures? 

If at birth there exists nothing but a passive recep- 
tivity of impressions, why is not a horse as educable 
as a man ? ^ is one of Mr. Spencer's natural questions. 
I suppose that an answer might be found by such 
^. . people as fancy that this rustle of words — 

a i^z-jif £i/tf- " passive receptivity of impressions" — has 

cable? ^^y sense when applied to a creature 
which, in receiving impressions, converts them into 
feelings or ideas, or can have any sense when applied 
to anything higher than putty or potter's clay. Such 
persons might say : Because the passive receptivity of 
impressions in the horse is of a lower degree than in 
the man. The answer would be as good as hundreds 
in the chapters from the midst of which this question 
is taken. A passive receptivity is one thing, a trans- 
forming force is another. Make impressions on clay 
to your heart's content ; it will hold them, and not 



^PrincipUs of Psychology^ § 207. 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 291 

alter them by converting them into either reflex 
action, or sensation, or perception, or emotion, or 
judgment, or deliberate act. Make them on a tele- 
phone without a human ear at the other end of it. 
The passive receptivity is no worse for such an omis- 
sion. But will the " reflex action " which we call an 
answer come ? Make them on a telegraphic wire to 
New York with a horse's eye upon the other end of 
it When the impression you make is "buy," will 
that impression be converted into a purchase ? when it . 
is " sell," will it be converted into a sale ? The horse 
'\^ not a man, and for that reason is not educable for 
the work of a man. He, indeed, is no passive recep- 
tivity, nor any other of the unmeaning abstractions 
with which much philosophic science, or scientific 
philosophy, fills its canvas. He, in his measure, is a 
transforming force, and impressions made upon him 
undergo potency of change. 

But for the work of a horse the horse is more edu- 

''Passive Cable than a man. If horses undertook to 

Rtceptivuy train boys they would probably find them 

-7, . very uneducable. For two reasons: first, 

Pffwtr. they were not made for horse operations ; 

and in the second place, they are the superior beings ; 

and it is of nature that superior beings shall teach 

the inferior, rather than be taught by them. In this, 

then, the horse has educational advantages which, on 

every non-theistic principle, are lacking to man — the 



292 AONOSTICrSM. 



advantages of a double teaching, one from his o^vn 
fellows and another from beings standing above him. 
To the spirit of the beast that goeth downward is 
always secured by nature the privilege of being able 
to look upwards. To the spirit of man that goeth 
upward this privilege is denied by unbelief ; by it 
that spirit is doomed always to look downwards, 
doomed to know only inferiors, doomed never to 
be enlightened by One whose thoughts are very 
deep. 

The authenticity of knowledge among the lower 
animals is certainly not due to its being perfect A 
puzzle-wright with a fraction of Mr. Spencer's skill 
could bewilder the most learned animal on the matter 
of its own special science. That would not prove that, 
so far as it did know, its knowledge was illusion, much 
less that it was nescience. If, then, imperfect know- 
ledge in the lower animals is authentic, whether it be 
knowledge born with them, knowledge learned from 
their parents, or knowledge imbibed from a superior 
being, is it natural, is it supposable, that in the same 
superior being knowledge shall be less authentic than 
in them ? is it probable that it shall less correctly 
inform him respecting things without him, and 
less safely guide him in his relations with those 
things ? 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 293 

VI. — Human Knowledge Real. 

Objects of knowledge may be within us, or without; 
may come up in our consciousness without either 
inference of reason or impression of sense ; may come 
up in it by inference of reason without impression of 
sense; may come up through such impression. But 
come before our consciousness in whatsoever way they 
may, they are knowable and are known. The first 
word of science to us is — Know thyself. This bodies, 
whether organic or inorganic, cannot enable us to do. 
They cannot even tell us to do it; much less how it is to 
be done. No more can we tell either of these things to 
them. Can anything be more absurd than for a great 
public teacher, first to tell men that they are agents 
of the same order as the governor of a steam engine, 
and in the next breath to tell them that their business 
is to learn the order of nature and to conform them- 
selves to it? . Let him tell that to th^ governor! and he 
will have to let it know how it is to begin to learn, 
and how to conform itself. The bare words "learn" 
and " conform ourselves," even without the word "our 
business," proclaim a transition from the realm of 
physical rule to that of proper law. "Learn," is Thou 
sfialt ; " Conform yourselves," is Thou shalt ; " Your 
business," is Thou oughtest. This is the domain of 
precept, of motive, of choice between alternative 
courses. We are here far away from the domain of 



294 AGNOSTICISM. 



mere body. We are with agents who can be com- 
manded, who can learn, who can take up a business 
and lay it down ; who can really know, and whose 
knowledge of physical nature all depends on ante- 
cedent knowledge of the mind and its processes. 

VII. — Knowledge by Instttict^ by Consciousness^ by 
Sensey by Intuition^ by Science^ by TestUnony. 

Knowledge of thought and feeling is our most im- 
mediate, direct, and certain knowledge. It alone arises 
in consciousness without waiting upon the successive 
steps of any outward process of sensation, or inward 
process of reasoning. From our knowledge of thought 
and feeling flows that of expression, their outward 
and visible sign. Of the several kinds of expression, 
including looks, tones, gesture, the most important is 
speech. From our knowledge of speech flows that of 
argument, language employed in reasoning. From 
our knowledge of argument flows that of mathemati- 
cal proof, reasoning confined to magnitudes. From 
reasoning on magnitudes, not by process of pure intel- 
lect as in mathematics, but by process of sense, flows 
measuring applied to verse and music. From all 
these, combined with the desire to create, flow art, the 
arts, and all inventions. The desire to imitate is a 
subordinate auxiliary serving under the desire to pro- 
duce. From all preceding science and art spring the 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 29/i 



so-called physical and natural sciences, each one of 
which represents an application to the study of a 
particular set of objects of all the lights which have 
been contributed by knowledge of mind, of language, 
of processes of reasoning, and methods of representa- 
tion or procedure. 

Knowledge of thought systematized is mental science. 
Knowledge of expression in its principle part is science 
of language. Knowledge of argument is science of 
logic. Knowledge of reasoning on magnitudes in- 
cludes geometry and arithmetic in the widest senses. 
And the knowledge of all these, applied to research 
in one set of physical objects, constitutes astronomy ; 
applied to another set, geology ; applied to a third, 
biology ; and so on. 

It is vain to attempt an absolute separation of the 
initial and instrumental sciences — those of mind, lan- 
guage, and reasoning — from any one of the physical 
sciences. As v/ell separate letters from language, or 
terms from logic, or axioms from mathematics. The 
initial and instrumental sciences accompany the 
labourer in any field of physical research at every 
step, as much as the alphabet accompanies the gram- 
marian or the poet. In proportion to his hold of 
them is, other things being equal, his equipment for 
his peculiar sphere. Every step he makes in observ- 
ing, discriminating, or classing, every step in framing 
a hypothesis or devising an experiment, supposes by 



296 AGNOSTICISM. 



invincible necessity the truth, the authenticity of many 
branches of antecedent knowledge. 

We exist and we know it. We think and we know 
•it. We wish and we know it. We note the present 
and we know it. We recall the past and we know 
it. We anticipate the future and we know it We 
long to see things and we know it. We remember 
things no longer within sight and we know it. We 
picture what we never saw and we know it We 
form a certain opinion and we know it. We form an 
opposite opinion and we know it. We desire to express 
the one opinion and we know the desire. We desire to 
suppress the other and wc know that We believe 
a statement and know that we believe. We dis- 
believe another and know that we disbelieve. We 
cannot say whether to believe or not to believe a 
third and know that we doubt All this is know- 
ing purely intellectual acts, observing things when 
the subject is its own object — things which do 
not easily admit of external verification, some of 
them not at all. It is knowledge of thought and 
feeling. 

To take knowledge by sensation. We are warm 
and we know it ; we are cold and know it. We 
are touched in the dark by a pillow ; we know both 
that something touched us and that the something 
was soft. We are touched in the dark by a door ; we 
know both that something touched us and that it 



KNOWLEDGE FA RTIALy YET REAL. 297 

was hard. We hear a sweet voice, and know that it 
is a voice — not a mere noise — a human voice, not a 
bird's, and that it is sweet ; we hear a harsh voice,, 
and know it to be habitually harsh ; we hear a third 
rough, and know it to be the roughness of a cold. 
This is knowledge of feeling and thought following 
on impression from external objects. All this is 
easily verified ; yet is not a whit more truly known 
than some of the preceding facts which are only 
internal, and not capable of external verification. 
When we see the pillow or the door we add a per- 
ception through sight to a sensation of touch. This 
perception is additional knowledge, and is as clear 
as the original sensation ; but the knowledge of havings 
been touched, and that by a soft substance in one 
case and a hard one in the other, was just as clear 
when we had only the one sensation as after it 
had been corroborated by the additional sensation. 

As to knowledge by Intuition : the knowledge 
that a whole is greater than any of its parts is. 
true knowledge. No challenge, defying us to picture 
in one mental representation all wholes and all their 
parts, ruffles our confidence in the reality of such 
knowledge. The thing asserted is of such a nature 
that every human mind which clearly grasps the 
meaning of the terms at once perceives its truth, its 
necessary truth, its universal truth ; and never after- 
wards swerves from that conclusion. The assertion: 

X 



298 AGNOSTICISM, 



instantly takes rank as an axiom. Thereafter any 
argument which contradicts it is out of court. So is 
it with another piece of knowledge — namely, that 
two things which are equal to one and the same third 
are equal to one another. The same sense of its 
necessary truth, and its universal truth, arises in all 
minds immediately on clear comprehension of what 
is here alleged, and no change of this conviction ever 
arises later from tests and experience. It is, as we 
say, self-evident. This, also, is therefore immediately 
recognised as an axiom, not to be demonstrated, but 
to be used to test attempted demonstrations by. 
This is intuitive knowledge. The firm footing which 
in such axiomatic knowledge the mind is conscious 
of possessing is proof that the Author of both the 
knower arid the things to be known has correlated 
mind and its objects in such manner that corre- 
spondence of mind with mind, in respect of those 
objects, shall proceed on firm ground ; one mind 
being assured that to other minds the object presents 
in the main the same attributes as to itself The fact 
that two minds in corresponding, that is, in recipro- 
cally communicating and comparing their knowledge, 
agree, leads us to call that agreement a corre- 
spondence, and even to extend the figure, and call 
an agreement of attributes in the object with appre- 
hensions in the mind correspondence ; not, however, 
implying exchange of sentiments, but simply the fact 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 299 



that the attributes which the mind perceives in the 
object are really in it. When we say that in two 
cogwheels the cogs and knotches correspond, we do 
not mean that they interchange question and answer, or 
remark and answer, but that figuratively each "answers 
to** the other, and both " answer to *' the idea of their 
constructor, so " answering " their end. 

Inferential knowledge is also real knowledge ; and 
that in spite of the fact that, whether it be arrived at 
by logical inference or by the more restricted mathe- 
matical inference, the process is liable to error, and 
hence the conclusion. In argument, we easily mis- 
apprehend terms, or fall into a false process in com- 
paring them ; in either of which cases the conclusion 
is vitiated. In calculations we easily fall into error 
of process, whence error of conclusion is inevitable. 
This does indeed establish the fact that a supposed 
inference is not necessarily a real one ; but it does not 
touch the fact that a real inference will always abide 
the test of time and experience, thereby vindicating 
its claim to be an expression of true knowledge. 
Grant a right of slipping in between the admitted 
terms a suppositious one, and any result is possible. 
An evolutionist, for instance, adduces several facts, say 
7, and one or two " might-bes,'* say 2, and then 3 facts 
more, and concludes that the sum is a dozen. Now 
the interpolated two being deducted, the sum has to 

be done over again ; and you cannot make a dozen. 

X 2 



300 AGNOSTICISM, 



Knowledge by testimony is also real. If the testimony 
is false or inaccurate, the knowledge is illusion, just as 
an inference is an illusion if the process has been 
vitiated. If the testimony is both truthful and accurate, 
then is knowledge the result. A man who never had 
been in America has said to a citizen of New York, 
as they sailed up the bay together : That is Staten 
Island, those are The Narrows ; that is the Batter>% 
yonder is St. George's Church. His knowledge of the 
existence of the place, and of certain of its features, 
though only founded on testimony — that testimony 
being truthful and accurate, and having also been 
clearly apprehended — was real knowledge ; needing 
only sight to convert it into experience. In travelling 
a careful man will often, from knowledge which he 
brings with him, correct the information given by 
persons on the spot, will sometimes correct even the 
information of guides. 

Knowledge by testimony, also knowledge by in- 
ference and belief, come closely together as well 
as run parallel. All knowledge involves belief; but 
belief is not knowledge. We may believe what is 
not true. This we call knowing what really we do not 
know. Illusion is a sincere, but ill-founded, belief 
resting upon supposed, but incorrect, obser\'ation or 
testimony, or else on supposed, but not valid, inference. 
When testimony is good, and apprehension correct, the 
consequent belief can hardly be set lower than know- 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 301 

ledge gained by experience. What difference is there 
in my certitude of the existence of Sydney or San 
Francisco, which I never saw, and my certitude of the 
existence of London, where I live, or of Cannes, where 
I write ? I could not recognize the former by sight, 
but perhaps could state facts about them not known 
to some who had actually lived in them. 

I have barely alluded to ktwwledge by instinct, which 
in point of order takes precedence of all other kinds, 
and in point of importance retains that precedence 
among animals that at birth enter upon their inherit- 
ance, which is the Past ; whereas in man, whose inherit- 
ance is the Hereafter, its place is not conspicuous ; 
he is held waiting for the waking up of fresh powers 
stage by stage as he advances on his way. If the 
dipper already mentioned displays striking knowledge 
the first day, higher races far outstrip man in the pro- 
portionate attainment of their first years compared 
with those of their later ones. The colt from a famous 
5tud will reach the zenith of his fame at an age when 
the son of the master scarcely knows his letters. Know- 
ledge displayed antecedently to testimony, to reasoning, 
to experience, to sensations corresponding, or to con- 
sciousness corresponding — the instinctive knowledge 
of bee, ant, bird — is not more striking in its ripeness at 
birth than in its precision and specialized adaptation 
to the future of the individual and the race. Affecting, 
as this knowledge does, numerous external objects, 



302 AGNOSTICISM. 



complex processes, and works of skill, such maturity 
without a past as it displays, such acquaintance with- 
out previous sight, such discrimination before oppor- 
tunities of comparing, such prevision of ends before any 
lessons of want, such selection of means before any 
trials, and in execution such expertness before exer- 
cise, lead us up above all the steps of creature teaching, 
and set us before the Power which knoweth and 
giveth knowledge. There is a school earlier than the 
mother's knee ; there is a Teacher who can not only 
instruct but incline, and not only incline but empower. 
The knowledge of what to do before even questions 
could arise, the inclination to do it before use had 
trained to it, the ability to perform before example 
seen, all point upwards, upwards. 

The consciousness of these instinctive lights and 
powers must be oneof the earliest actsof consciousness. 
The knowledge brought by sense reinforces that con- 
sciousness and stimulates the powers. Later, in man. 
Reason with its intuitions and its inferences, testimony, 
experience, all proceed in constant streams to augment 
the fund of knowledge, with him low at birth, and 
nearly equal in all ; but far otherwise as life goes on. 
The attempts to account for all instinctive knowledge 
by the experience of the race, which is a good account 
of certain modifications and phases of it, form one of 
the poorest of the many inexpressibly poor efforts to 
pass off intricate webs of wordcraft for genuine scien- 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 303 

tific accounts of things. Instinctive knowledge is the 
foundation of all other, and he who regards it as 
either nescience or illusion, he who does not accept 
t as effective knowledge so far as it goes, must have 
private passages in his mind in which ordinary 
lights arc quenched. He who fancies that he has 
caught it in a wood of nerves and ganglia, plexuses,, 
and nexuses, integrations, and differentiations, and 
vibrations, and equilibrations, must give us leave to 
admire. 

When a state of partial knowledge is confounded 
with nescience or with illusion, it is turned into a 

Effect of c^use of intellectual gloom; as if any sup- 
Conjfounding posed gains of our own were unreal, and 
J, . as if the total sum bequeathed by our 
with predecessors was a heritage of masks. If 

Nescience, ^^^at we suppose ourselves to know in the 
objects of thought, both within and without us, is made 
to appear unreal, any striving after knowledge of nature 
or art, of God or nian, seems as if it were but flitting 
from bough to bough in some enchanted grove where 
only illusions dwell. Unable to know within our- 
selves, unable to know around us, even things of which 
all our senses plainly tell, how can we look above and 
hope to know any Being or Power higher than visible 
objects ? Unable to know what we saw in the past, and 
what we see in the present, it becomes impossible for us 
to listen to any voice gently sounding from this side of 



304 AGNOSTICISM. 



the grave over to the other and saying : What thou 
Icnosvest not now thou shalt know hereafter. The 
wand that turns our knowledge into nescience 
becomes a club that beats down all our hope of 
brighter light in a better world. 

VIII. — Effect on Christian Minds of Partial 

Knowledge. 

Very dififerent is the aspect assumed by partial 
knowledge when once its validity is admitted. 
We then cease to have any suspicion of being a 
^port of mocking somethings, or mocking nothings, 
-which illude us with ideas that we are, that we 
think, that we know, and that our actions are 
pregnant with vast meaning and issues, whereas we 
are but infinitesimal fractions of an All-nothingness. 
We then feel ourselves to be a reality — a small but 
still a significant reality ; girt round about on every 
hand by relations and beings, all realities possessing 
a significance ever ascending, the whole being em- 
braced in the arms of one Infinite Life and Truth. 
Existence real, matter real, life real, mind real, force 
real, motion real ; man real, God real ; thought itself 
•ceases to be idle phantasm, and the soul of man may 
Jook upwards and breathe a morning air that inspires 
him for an everlasting ascent. 

Once certified that our knowledge is real, the fact 
that we only know in part, instead of benumbing our 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 305 

aspirations, inspires them anew. To the knower, the 

fact that he does not know all is a call, when once 

he believes that effort will be rewarded, not mocked. 

The certitude, " I know all ; no more remains to 

learn," must be to a finite intellect the knell of 

progress. Let one believe this, and there will he 

5tand ; content, perhaps, if he believes he is to die 

to-morrow, and if to him death means really entering 

into nothingness. But not so if he expects even to 

live for years here, never knowing any fresh object, 

or any more about familiar ones ; still less if he 

•expects, on passing out of this bodily envelope, to 

^nter upon a world as far above this in matter for 

knowledge and means of knowing as this world, 

when he was brought into it, proved to be superior 

to that earlier smaller world wherein he dwelt when 

his unknown and unknowable mother was his universe. 

To live here and not learn would be dull even to 

stupid men ; even to the frivolous who put telling 

and hearing news for all increase of knowledge. 

But to go forth into another world and live in it for 

■ever and ever incapable of advancing, stagnant from 

the first, would be mentally appalling. On the other 

hand, the consciousness that what Now knows not 

Hereafter makes known, and that in the Beings, the 

themes, and the life of that other world there is room 

for a finite mind to travel evermore onward on the 

road to infinite attainments, gives to our present 



306 AGNOSTICISM, 



glimpse in a mirror — dim glimpse and partial — the 
full effect of certitude that the Presence is at hand^ 
gives to our knowing in part the substantial worth 
of an earnest of knowledge, in comparison perfect, 
knowledge which in its perfection includes faculty of 
growth even so long as eternity unfolds itself. The 
astronomer who should begin life believing he 
could know no more than he then did would have a 
dull prospect. If this did not produce its logical 
effect, and prevent him from working, he would 
soon by work be cured, his partial knowledge 
becoming at once earnest of better things to come 
and invitation to further labour. Beyond those stars 
which his unassisted eye could see was darkness. 
A feeble telescope did not turn that darkness into 
nothing, but showed more stars, with darkness 
beyond. A stronger glass did not find this darkness 
empty, but the pavilion of more stars, with the 
blank darkness pushed farther out. Here again a yet 
more powerful glass showed the darkness to be a 
dwelling-place of more stars ; until to his eye and his 
belief the darkness surrounding his most distant 
points of light, instead of seeming the abode of 
nought, or of Chaos, seems the inviting home of 
more stars. 

This is what Infinite Space and Eternal Time are 
to the Christian : the home of more stars, whose 
phases will never have all revolved ; more stars ever 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, SDT 

winning him onward, ever rewarding with new 
wonder and joy. A Fathers House of many 
mansions sends out its distant lights to cheer him, 
with the sure and certain hope of a Face to Face 
beholding, and a knowledge of all the Father 
spreads before His sons. 

Strangely, a noted passage with a metaphor, often 
regarded as written by Mr. Spencer to show us how 
nescience overpowers and invalidates knowledge, and 
certainly quoted in that sense by favourable critics, 
Mr. spettcer, really expresses the Christian view of 

in fact, partial knowledge as growing and gaining 
Corroborates upon nescience ; for when you imagine an 

7%is 

enlarging sphere pushing out its surround- 
ing atmosphere, though it is true that the larger it 
grows, the larger is the circle of atmosphere which 
it touches, that is not because the emptiness grows, 
but because the fulness does so. Let a globe in 
a schoolroom be enlarged till it reaches the walls 
and ceiling ; of course the circle of empty air now 
touching its surface is a much larger one than when 
the globe was a twentieth part of its present size ; 
but that is the result of the increase of the globe, and 
the pushing back of the emptiness. Therefore the 
true effect of this striking language is exactly the 
reverse of what it is sometimes cited as carrying ; 
" Regarding science as a gradually increasing sphere, 
we may say that every addition to its surface does 



■308 AGNOSTICISM, 



but bring it in wider contact with surrounding 
nescience."' 

IX. — His " Unascertaified Something'' 

Mr. Spencer sees that this coexistence of know- 
ledge and nescience promises to the human race that 
so long as it shall exist a sphere of research will exist 
in "that unascertained something which phenomena 
and their relations imply." Such is the Future into 
which Agnosticism shrivels up the Christian hope of 
■eternal increase of knowledge. The race "through all 
future time/' — that is, terrestrial time, until this ball 
^hall roll its last round upon its axis, or at least until 
man for the last time shall count the round — may have 
the benefit of " occupying itself" with an "unascer- 
tained something." This term, of all Mr. Spencer's 
diplomatic names for his own substitute for a Living 
and True God, is the clearest and best. Nevertheless, 
the prospect that after us succeeding generations may 
contemplate an unascertained something docs not seem 
to be a broad addition to mortal hopes. Every pain 
and pleasure, every bone and sinew, offers to us an 
unascertained something. The Agnostic's prospect is 
as small in comparison with the Christian's prospect 
as the range of a short-sighted eye is small in com- 
parison with that of telescope and microscope com- 

» First Prin., j 4. 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL, 309» 

bined. Each individual soul, not only until the moment 

The Contrast when on earth the evening and the morning- 

between shall be the last day, but for ever and ever. 

Agnostic and 

Christian " oi^y occupy itself with more than "an un- 
Hopes, ascertained something" — with undiscovered 
depths in One Well Known Being, and with ever fresh 
unascertained somethings in His works and ways. 
Thus will that remain possible to each one of us for 
ever and ever which Mr. Spencer concedes to the 
race — for the time it lasts — namely, that " it must 
always continue possible for the mind to dwell upon 
that which transcends knowledge." 

Dwelling upon Him who when most known is 
most seen to transcend knowledge, each separate soul 
will gather store of joy greater than the whole race 
can accumulate in its transient course by dwelling on> 
finite things alone, dissociated from that Infinite One 
whom in some faint degree all finite things display.. 
To know Him is to love, to know Him much is to 
love much, to know more is to love more, to increase 
in knowledge eternally is to grow in love eternally \ 
to love is to live in earnest ; to love God is to love 
and live for all that is good, is the height of highest 
life. To dwell upon an unascertained something 
offers to the individual a certain hope of intellectual 
employ for the few days of life that remain. To- 
dwell in successive generations upon an unascertained 
something extends that pale hope from our age to 



310 AGNOSTICISM, 



the race, till the axle of its carriage breaks and both 
vehicle and fare sink together in the bottomless 
nought. This is not thy heritage, O soul of immortal 
man ! Thou shalt know God, and Jesus Christ whom 
He hath sent ; shalt know here and know hereafter 
Him whom to know is life eternal. 

At page 285 I quoted the passage in Job where 
the dwelling-place of Wisdom (its Where and its 
Whence) is inquired for. The inquirer sees know- 
ledge shown in the veins of silver, gold, and iron; and 
yet another knowledge in mining and working them. 
He sees knowledge in the regulated office of darkness, 
.and in the alternate appearing and disappearing of 
the waters. He sees it in the heat of the earth, and 
in its bread-bearing fecundity ; in its stones, in its 
gems ; in its water courses, floods, and strange balance 
of weights and forces. He sees it in the path of the 
fowl, in the eye of the bird of prey. He hears man 
confess that he can neither make it nor buy it ; that 
his valuables are not of price in the treasure-house 
whence it flows. The Depth says — It is not in me ; 
the Sea — It is not with me. The vulture's eye dis- 
covers it not ; the widest range of winged fowl leads 
not to its home. The destroyer and the grave have 
heard the fame thereof, but of them it could not come. 
Whence, jthen, whence? God understandeth it; He 
Jcnoweth it ; He declareth it. 

The reverse of this process is shown in the hundred 



KNOWLEDGE PARTIAL, YET REAL. 311 

and thirty-ninth Psalm. In Job, man is searching after 
the abode of knowledge ; in the Psalm, he is seeking 
how he can escape from its pursuit. It is present at 
his downsitting, at his uprising. It is before him, 
behind him ; within him, looking through him. It 
scrutinizes even his thought, and thought afar off. 
Yea, it anticipated and fore- traced his existence. 
Distance does not remove him from it ; darkness does 
not cover from it ; night is no night for it ; neither the 
world above nor the world below is another world to 
it. This knowledge is not human, not creaturely; the 
attempt to flee from it is the attempt to flee from the 
presence of God. If we seek for the fountain of know- 
ledge, we meet with God. If we would flee from 
knowledge, we are encompassed with God. Height, 
depth, darkness, light, earth, heaven, hell — all feel 
that one Presence, and are interpenetrated with the 
glance of that all-searching view. 

In these simple records of ancient times — dear to 

millions in all times, millions augmenting with every 

Mr. spencer's ^^cade — Mr. Spencer might gather some 

Doctrine of hints as to what are the ideas of Person- 

igetue, ^jj^^ ^^^ Intelligence which really prevail 

among believers in revealed religion. His misconcep- 
tions are gratuitous. If he cannot conceive personality 
without a body, or substance without matter, or pro- 
duction otherwise than as by an artificer, all who love 
the Bible habitually can and do. Where he will find 



312 AGNOSTICISM, 



a "mode of being" higher than the Personality felt and 
known in such writing as that referred to above, where 
a " mode of being," higher than this Intelligence, he 
gives us no means of imagining. For him, indeed, 
the "universal law of nervous action explains this 
universal law of intelligence for us" ;* the universe we 
live in is not all pervaded by nerves, and tokens of 
intelligence are not bounded by the human epidermis. 
For him, "regarded under every variety of aspect, 
Intelligence is found to consist in the establishment 
of correspondences between relations in the organism 
and relations in the environment"' For us the 
establishment of relations, and even the idea of estab- 
lishing them, is impossible except as the act of 
an Intelligence already existing ; and the effective 
establishment of them is impossible if such pre- 
existing Intelligence cannot command power to 
determine the inmost nature of things. 

It will throw light back on the ground we have 
already traversed, and also forward on what yet lies 
before us, if we now take some specific notice of Mr. 
Spencer's teaching as to the part played in the 
system of the universe by Illusion and Phenomena. 
Indeed this, while one of the most interesting 
phases of his speculations, is perhaps the one which 
offers the key to the whole. 



* Prin, of Psychology^ § 268. * Same, § 176. 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 313 



CHAPTER V. 

MR. spencer's doctrine OF ILLUSION AND 

PHENOMENA. 

L — Is a Thiftg Identical with Its Own Appearances ? 

If one plainly said that the appearance of West- 
minster Abbey is the same thing as the Abbey itself, 
probably not many would let the statement pass 
unchallenged. Again, if it was plainly said that the 
Abbey was only an appearance, and that it was 
nothing except when making an appearance, not many 
would concur. Yet the universal propositions — that 
every appearance is itself. the thing that makes the 
appearance, that everything is only an appearance, 
and that everything is nothing except when it is 
making an appearance, might have been accepted 
in broad daylight as fundamental axioms, so fre- 
quently are they assumed in reasoning not confined 
to Positivists and Agnostics. 

Now, so far as we of human race are concerned, a 
thing may exist, and yet make no appearances to us ; 
and when that is the case, on what principle can such 
a thing be called a phenomenon, since that means 
only a thing appearing ? Whether appearing or not 

Y 



314 AGNOSTICISM. 



appearing, realities are truly things, that is, they are 
objects thought about, or as a Cockney would say, 
unwittingly conserving the record of a truth, they 
are thinks. 

The thing, may be as real and mighty as 
gravitation, and, whether making appearances or 
not making them, it, by virtue of its reality and 
niight, may possibly become an object 
which of thought, and even of certitude. It may, 
Do Not like gravitation, be the cause of ten thou- 
sand appearances. Or it may, like ether, 
be a necessary condition of appearances. The fact 
that it does not appear to us does not reduce it from 
the rank of a thing to that of a nothing. That fact only 
proclaims that things of an importance as transcendent 
as that of gravitation or ether exist, affect our con- 
dition, and yet are never presented to eye, ear, or other 
sense. These things are, nevertheless, revealed to the 
Higher Man, made manifest by rays finer than those 
of the sun, announced by speech subtler than that of 
voice — a speech addressed to somewhat within us 
which hearkens for notes deeper than pulses in the 
air. Local manifestations would not represent the 
universal presence of these momentous realities ; and 
intermittent ones would not represent their constancy 
of operation. They become known to us, not by being 
shown to any organ of sense, but by force of evidence 
collected from all points of the field of observation. 



ILL USION AND PHENOMENA . 816 

When things that do not make any appearances 
are called phenomena, it is by a use of language 
looser than should pass when thinkers mean work. 
When a thing is above form and colour — ^the sole 
objects capable of appearing through the eye ; when it 
is above tremors in the air — the sole objects capable 
of appearing through the hearing ; when it is above 
corporal emissions and contacts — ^the sole objects 
capable of appearing through the other senses ; when, 
in a word, by reason of its higher nature, it does not 
appear to the senses but to the soul, to call it by a 
name which signifies that it is nothing but an appear- 
ance to sense is no less than a forcing of phraseology 
to misrepresent Though these non-appearing realities 
wait in their silent abodes to be felt after and found 
by the spirit of man, the innumerable phenomena of 
which they are either the condition or the cause 
constantly point up to them. 

To all men except philosophers Appearances 
intelligibly announce their place and mission in the 

general system of things. To ordinary 

Maadfistations P^^pl^ ^t seems to be a fact upon the face 
if a Body to of nature that the Appearance fills an 
* ' appointed place as a messenger of know- 

ledge between a body and a mind, in a manner 
analogous to that in which the word holds its place 
between one mind and another. Many as are the 
strong points of a body, it has no inheritance in the 

Y 2 



\ 



816 AGNOSTICISM, 



Logos. It cannot learn a language, and it cannot speak 
or be spoken to. By other bodies this would never be 
deplored ; for to them it would be no defect. They 
have no promptings to communicate information or to 
seek it. The ruby never cares to utter its sentiments 
to the emerald, nor the pearl to explain its origin. 
Yet if bodies are to fulfil their office in a world 
governed by mind, they must somehow become known 
to minds. But they cannot make themselves known, 
cannot tell of their existence, much less of their 
properties and uses ; and did matters remain thus, 
mind could make no more of iron or rocksalt than 
marble can make of them. 

Here, then, enters the Appearance, having its office 
and nature well defined. Just as speechless matter 
could not make itself known to mind without some 
method of appearances ; so mind could not itself 
command knowledge of a body without some such 
method. An Appearance is a combination whereby a 
body shoots forth from itself into a mind the an- 
nouncement : Here I am. Except to a mind, it can 
make no such announcement The appearance also 
aflTords some clue as to what kind of an / is the one 
so announced. Although, as has been said, this is 
done in a manner somewhat analogous to that where- 
in a mind, by a word, shoots forth from itself into 
another mind any idea it wishes to convey, there is 
yet a great difference, notwithstanding the fact that 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 317 

in both cases there is presupposed in mind the power 
of apprehension, of attention, and of inference. 

The body which appears knows nothing of the 
appearance it makes, nothing of the mind into which 
it darts it, nothing of the medium through which it is 
darted, nothing of the impression made by it as it 
reaches its goal. Tell a body that there is a mind 
observing it, and it will not in consequence do any- 
thing which it would not do in the absence of an 
observer. Ay, if all the minds upon earth were 
watching, it would do nothing but what it would do 
if there was only one mind watching, or none at all* 
It cannot respond to observation. 

In contrast with this, a mind when making its 

thoughts appear knows somewhat of the being to 

whom it w^ould manifest them. To a mere 

between This ^ody — to a statue, or a portrait, to a tele- 

andaManifes' scope or a pair of Spectacles, to a printing 

/a/umo/Aft . pj-^gg ^j. ^^ electrical machine — it knows 

tliat it cannot make its thoughts known. On the other 
hand, it knows that to an animal it can make them 
appear in some small part, and to a man in large 
measure. In addition to this, it knows something of 
the form it ought to give to the appearance, and some- 
thing of the medium through which it passes, whether 
light, or air, or light and paper, or wire, or whip, or 
rod, or rein. It also knows something of the im- 
pression which the appearance will probably produce. 



318 AGNOSTICISM, 



Accordingly, if it is to be made to the eye, the 
mind adapts form and movement to light and shade ; 
if to the ear, it adapts sound not only to the hearer, 
but also to distance. Similarly it modifies its signs 
according as the mind to be approached is that of an 
animal, a child, an ignoramus, or a person of intelli- 
gence. When conscious of the absence of both man 
and animal, it has no impulse to employ speech, 
gesture, or look in order to make its thoughts 
appear. 

Now, if a man holds up his hand as a signal, who 
of us would identify the sight with the man ; or if he 
shouts, who of us would identify the sound with him? 
Yet if a body appears to us by a sight, a sound, a 
touch, smell, or taste, we seem to identify body and 
appearance by calling the one a phenomenon and 
the other a phenomenon. How is this? We do not 
confound a projectile with the weapon from which 
it is shot, nor yet with the target at which it flies, any 
more than with the air that bears it up or with the 
impression it makes on striking. We hold the bow- 
man and his bow for one thing, the arrow for a 
second, the air for a third, the target for a fourth, and 
the impression for a fifth; each of them as distinct 
from the others as if it existed alone. So it is with 
a speaker. He is one thing (both bowman and bow)> 
the word is a second, the air a third, the ear aimed 
at a fourth, the impression to be made a fifth. Now» 



ILL USION AND PHENOMENA, 3 1 9 



is an appearance to be confounded with the thing 
that makes it, any more than a word is with the 
speaker? Yet while we should not call both orator 
and oration speech, we do habitually call both 
an appearance and the substance which makes it 
phenomena. 

Why philosophers should execute such feats of 
writing over what to ordinary persons would appear 
as plain as nature can make it, is not for us to say. 
We must deferentially accept their prodigious para- 
graphs as throes of the evolution from well-digested 
common thought into purely technical formulas. 
Nevertheless, we shall never be content to regard, say, 
a peacock and the appearance he makes as one and 
the same thing. We shall not be persuaded that on 
a pitch dark night when he makes no appearance there 
is any less of him or any different form of him from 
what existed at golden noon when he dazzled the 
beholders. We shall not believe that it makes the 
difference of a feather to his frame whether the be- 
holders are a wren and a yellow-hammer or a whole 
school of children. Let those who think it philosophic 
call him and not merely his appearance a phenomenon. 
We shall call him a peacock — a peacock when he 
makes a phenomenon, and as much a peacock when 
lie does not appear. 



320 AGNOSTICISM, 



II. — Are Phenomena Disguises? 

If this view is correct, the Appearance is the speech 
of bodies in like manner as speech is the appearance 
of minds. This, however, is in direct contradiction 
to Mr. Spencer's teaching. In his Classification of the 
Sciences he gives, in obvious imitation of Comte, a 
carefully concocted diagram of the sciences, accom- 
panied by definitions. He thus defines science [italics 
mine] : " Science is that which treats of the forms 
in which phenomena are known to us," and again : 
" Science is that which treats of the plunomena tlum- 
selves^ Here it is quite obvious that " phenomena" 
is not used as the name of mere appearances, 
but of things, substances and their appearances both 
together. "The forms in which phenomena are 
known"! But phenomena are only the forms in which 
substances are known. What, then, is the form of a 
form ? Science, as viewed in the light of this definition, 
has no other occupation than to treat of the forms of 
forms. Even Comte, upon whom Mr. Spencer is here 
avowedly improving, allowed science to study appear- 
ances and their laws. Mr. Spencer is far too sensible 
to lay down restrictive rules as to what questions we 
shall ask and what we shall not ; but, were his 
words taken as they stand, we should say he 
believes that in point of fact science is restricted 
to phenomena and forms of phenomena. His words, 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 821 

however, mean more than appears. It may seem at 
first sight hard to believe, but what he really intended 
is that Science treats of things, with time and space. 

Kant had called Time and Space forms of thought, 
to which Mr. Spencer demurs, and calls them forms 
of things. But in his formula he does not call things 
things, but phenomena, and consequently makes time 
and space forms of phenomena. Kant apparently 
discharged out of the word form the old scholastic 
meaning, and put into it a new one of his own. 
With him fonn does not seem to mean the distin- 
guishing characteristic which marks off a thing from 
every other thing, but seems to mean a condition 
preceding existence and indispensable to it. Time 
and space, then, he holds are not things in themselves ; 
— whatever that may mean, as one fails to realize a 
thing out of itself ; — they are forms of thought, or 
essential precedent conditions of thought. Whether 
Mr. Spencer takes the word form in the old sense or 
in the apparently Kantian one, he does not say. In 
practical use he gives to it applications irreconcilable 
with either of the two meanings ; as, for instance, when 
he calls Time "the blank form" in which successive 
states of consciousness are presented and represented.^ 
A riddle of a definition this; and one might easily 
occupy many pages in attempting to find out what 
signification may lie under the metaphor. To whom 

» Prin. of PsycJiology, § 337. 



322 AGNOSTICISM, 



or to what are the states presented and represented ? 
Of whom or of what are the states states? How is the 
form blank, and yet capable of receiving only succes- 
sive entries? Who makes the entries, or presents the 
things presented? Is not Time quite as much the 
arena of contemporaneous events as of events in series, 
quite as much of coexisting bodies and minds as of suc- 
cessive ones? and so on: the questions come too thick 
for discussion. The constant ringing of an antithesis 
between Space as the abstract of coexistent relations 
and Time as the abstract of successive ones seems to 
indicate a total oblivion to the fact that successive 
things are in space as well as in time, and that coex- 
istent things are in time as well as in space. Confining 
the idea of coexistence to Space treats Time as if it 
were length without breadth, and confining succession 
to Time treats Space as if it were breadth without 
length; whereas space is as long as time, and time 
as broad as space. 

One thing, however, is manifest, that for Mr. 
Spencer things are phenomena and the forms of 
things are time and space. Here comes boldly into 
view the conception of Mr. Spencer as to the place 
and office of phenomena or appearances. He usually 
contrasts phenomenon and reality, not phenomenon 
and substance. This assumes that the phenomenon 
is not a reality; whereas, be it an appearance, an 
image, a reflection, or even a shadow, it is a reality 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 



32» 



as truly as the substance it discloses. The shadows 
on the sundial have played the part of important 
realities in many a juncture of urgency. 

Holding that logic and mathematics treat of time 
and space, he says they treat of the Forms of phe- 
nomena, and he therefore calls them the Abstract 
Sciences, Holding that it is not of time 
^ Scheme^ ^ ^"^ space, but of things themselves, that 
tfihe the other sciences treat, he calls them 
Saetues. Concrete Sciences^ and by compounding 
the two makes a middle class, the Abstract Concrete 
Sciences. 



His scheme is this: — 



^that which treats of the 

fonns in which phenomena 

are known to us 



Abstract 
Science 



Logic and 
Mathemattcs 



SCIENCE < 
is 



that which treats 
of the phenom- 
ena themselves 



in their 
elements 



in their 



Abstract ) Mechanics, 
Concrete ^ 



Concrete 
totalities'^ Science 



Concrete > Physics, 
Science ) Chemistry, etc- 

1 



Astronomy, 

Geology, 

Biology, 

Psychology, 

J Sociology, etc- 



To keep our own point in view, we do not note 
in these two groups of studies any other feature 
than this, that the objects of knowledge are so 
described as to throw out in high relief Mr. Spencer's 
doctrine that phenomena are not revealing messengers, 
but are disguises. That by " disguise " Mr. Spencer 
understands much the same as the public do, may be 



324 AGNOSTICISM. 



inferred from such expressions as the following. 
Speaking of beliefs, he says : " In each there is some- 
thing right more or less disguised by other things 
wrong."i With this sense of the word fixed, we read 
that in the Abstract Sciences " the essential nature 
of some phenomenon is considered apart from the 
phenomena which disguise it" In the Concrete 
Sciences, " On the other hand, the frequency of 
the recurrence of the phenomenon, with or without 
various disguising phenomena, is the thing con- 
sidered/'2 The italics are mine. 

The idea that whatever we can observe by the 
senses is not a reality, but only an appearance, and 
liiusiveness of ^^at the appearance is not a true showing 
Appearances, vvhich informs US of the reality, but a mis- 
leading one which disguises it, frequently reappears. 
For instance, we are told that since philosophy con- 
cludes that the things of which we are conscious are 
appearances, " it inevitably arouses in us the notion 
of an illusiveness,"3 &c. This illusiveness is illustrated 
by the fact that pictures well simulate realities. The 
obvious remark is that what the picture simu- 
lates is the appearance of a given substance, and 
if that is not a reality, but only a disguise, it, 
then, simulates no more than a disguise. But, in 
fact, the picture itself is a reality, as real a picture 



» First Prift. » Classification^ p. 7. 3 First Prin,^ § 61. 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. S25 

as the man painted is a real man, or the tree painted 
a real tree. If it well simulates the appearance of 
the thing pictured, in that it only testifies to the 
trustworthiness of appearances, when not meant to 
deceive but to inform. 

" The looking-glass," says Mr. Spencer, " still more 
distinctly proves how deceptive is sight when un- 
verified by touch." In this Mr. Spencer concurs 
with notables ancient and modern. Nevertheless, 
it really is not correct that the looking-glass proves 
that sight unverified by touch is deceptive. What 
it does prove is that first impressions need to be 
checked ; and that is true respecting impressions 
of touch as well as those of sight, and equally true 
respecting impressions purely of mind. But how 
much can touch tell us about impressions caught 
from a looking-glass ? It can tell us that the surface 
we are looking at is solid and smooth. That is alL 
It cannot decide whether or not a man is behind 
the solid, or enclosed within it. No more can it 
decide whether the solid is transparent or opaque, 
whether a reflector of light or a non-reflector. 

Even at the first the principal impression of what 
the looking-glass conveys is one that gives real 
information. It is only subordinate traits which 
are illusive. The glass shows the appearance of 
a man ; and a man there is. What is in fault is 
not sight, but inexperience. There are in this 



320 AGNOSTICISM, 



reflected appearance peculiarities not belonging to 
the direct appearance of a man ; but our experience 
has not prepared us to seize these and conclude 
accordingly. A few repetitions of the experience 
enable us to distinguish these traits, and to dis- 
criminate between a direct appearance of a man 
and one reflected. This is correction by sight 
Itself, not by touch. Sight told true. It showed 
what was to be shown. A man is present, other- 
wise never would the glass give the reflection — 
never would the eye see it. A baby that never 
touched the great mirror perfectly knows that by 
getting before it she will have a sight of baby, and 
that by holding up dolly to it she will have a sight 
of dolly. How little of illusion and how much 
of reality, even to the baby, there is in this reflection 
soon appears. She speedily learns that when she 
wants a sight of dolly in the glass, she cannot get 
it by holding up the rattle. If dolly is presented 
it will reflect dolly, and if the rattle, the rattle; 
but as to getting it to reflect the one when the other 
is presented — no, no. 

When we mistake a reflection for a body, sight 
itself soon Corrects the illusion ; it soon disting^uishes 
among others those bodies which will reflect images, 
and soon ascertains in what positions they yield a 
reflection, and in what they do not The reflection 
is as much a reality as the body ; and its reality lies 



ILL USION AND PHENOMENA. 327 

in not being a body, but a reflection, just as the reality 
of the body lies in the opposite. One would make 
a false representation in telling you that the body 
is a real reflection, as clearly as one would in telling 
you that the reflection is a real body. How im- 
portant this reality may be is seen in the effects of 
moonlight, in those of the planets, in those of flashed 
signals, and in the familiar fact that something may 
be seen in a mirror which one person would give 
much to conceal and another much to discover. 
Nature is true. A shadow is true ; that of a camel 
is never made by a man. A reflection is true ; no 
glass, no pond, will give you back the reflection of 
a man if it is a camel you set before it. An image 
is true ; the young which bear the image of the 
deer are not sprung of oxen. And so also is the 
direct appearance true ; the appearance of your father 
is not that of your neighbour. In fact, the direct 
appearance is the image of an object which pencils 
of light paint on your retina, itself a plate prepared 
from of old, and capable of taking on the image and 
presenting it to the mind, just as the plate of an 
a.stronomer takes on the image of stars, some vis- 
ible by the naked eye, some visible by the telescope, 
some invisible even by the aid of the strongest tele- 
scope ever made, yet, nevertheless, revealed to the 
eye itself by the image taken on by the more sensitive 
** dry plate," during a long-continued exposure. 



828 AGNOSTICISM, 



It IS obvious that the question whether appear- 
ances disguise realities or reveal them involves the 
truthfulness of the whole system of communication in 
nature. If they disguise, then the realities them- 
selves are misrepresented ; the something, whatever 
it may be, emitted from each reality as originating 
an appearance is a misleading utterance, the medium 
conveying it carries forward a deceptive communica- 
tion, the organ which takes it up from the medium 
passes on the deception, and the intervening nerve 
and brain are engaged in bewildering a knower by a 
false notion of things professedly made known. The 
reality of the knower and the distinction between him 
and the things to be made known are both implied 
in the supposition of a scheme of illusory communi- 
cations as well as in that of a scheme of truthful 
ones. It as much takes an observer to receive a false 
impression as to receive a true one, and it as much 
takes an object to give out a deceptive sign as a candid 
one. Therefore, the idea that a system of illusion 
clears the way to the doctrine of universal identity, 
by destroying the reality of supposed persons and 
things, is superficial. Persons and things are as real 
when disguising themselves by false appearances as 
when manifesting themselves by truthful ones. Persons 
deceived by disguises are as real as persons informed 
by frank appearances. 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 329 



III. — Appearances Reveal^ do not Disguise, 

We have to keep before us the fact that, according^ 

to our philosopher, what we do in the highest sciences 

is to consider the essential nature of things, and side 

by side with this we have to keep in view the fact 

that appearances disguise things. I need hardly 

repeat the imposing formula that the phenomenon 

is disguised by the phenomena. If appearances 

disguise things, what can there be to present the 

essential nature of things to our consideration ? that 

nature is not indicated to us by the signs contrived in 

nature, but is hidden from us. In such a case should 

we not have a better chance of knowing the real 

nature of a thing if it did not make any appearances ? 

We admit that non-appearance is not a contribution 

to knowledge ; but at all events it does not give false 

ideas. The witness who answers not to his name in 

Court may be blamed, but not for giving false 

evidence. 

It will hardly be said that our knowledge of bodies 
which never make appearances to us is greater than 
that of those which do. The surface of the earth is 
to us a phenomenon distributed into countless phe- 
nomena, while its centre is no phenomenon at all, 
never addressing itself to any of our senses. Which 
of the two is the better known to us ? Holding, how- 
ever, as we do, that phenomena do not disguise but 

Z 



330 AGNOSTICISM. 



reveal realities, we by no means imply that they 
deliver knowledge to us in such a manner that it 
takes its place in the mind without attention on our 
part. No more would we imply that after attentive 
observation the knowledge received by us amounts 
to a power of defining the object, "in itself," "in 
its substance," " in its nature,*' " in its essential 
nature," " in its ultimate nature," and so forth 
Still further are we from supposing that any one 
appearance of a thing may disclose all that is to 
be known of it, or, indeed, that its repeated appear- 
ances to any one sense can do so. On the contrary, 
after the appearances of a given body for years to all 
our senses alternately, it is not in our power to say 
how much of its properties still remains unknown. 

The extent to which any set of appearances reveals 
to a mind the properties and possibilities of an object 
depends greatly on ihe character of the mind. It 
depends on its nature, whether human or animal, 
and if animal, what animal. If human, it depends 
on its native power of apprehension, on its acquired 
power of observation and inference, on its memory, 
and on its power of reflection. To a cat the same 
object making the same appearance will not reveal 
what it will to a man. And it will reveal widely 
differing amounts of its properties to a drayman, a 
painter, and a trained physicist. But revealing in 
part is totally different from disguising. On this 



I 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 381 

diflerence turns the entire question. If nature is 
truthful and mind is to be relied upon, appearances 
do reveal, though only in part. If, instead of this, 
nature is deceitful and mind is an accessory to its 
own illusion, knowledge becomes a phantasm, science 
is but angling in the Dead Sea, and faith ceases to 
have any foundation. 

When reading that things are phenomena, and 
phenomena disguises, I seem carried back again 
among old friends in the Mysore, hearing them 
exclaim, Mosa^ all is Mosa / illusion, all is illusion ! 

Oriental That idea sits well on a clear-headed Pan- 
Panthtufs theist, especially when he is ready to accept 
^^' its moral and social corollaries. But it 
does not sit at all well on one who disclaims Pan- 
theism, who preaches observation, not mere medita- 
tion, and who is by no means prepared for the moral 
and social corollaries. When Brahm from being One 
became many, he placed each separate being, or what 
seemed a separate being, under the influence of an illu- 
sion, Maya. This illusion is particularly strong in man, 
who under it thinksof himself as separate from Brahm. 
Yet is Brahm alone the true existence, the sole reality. 
Be it said, however, for Asiatic Pantheism, that Brahm 
is not conceived of as an impersonal tendency, or 
stream, or principle, or any similar abstraction evisce- 
rated of sense. He is distinctly conceived of as willing 
and acting, even if only intermittently. He not only 

z 2 



332 AGNOSTICISM. 



wills US to be, but he makes us act ; he is the ever- 
operating power, and that with his own knowledge 
and by his own intention. This may be inconsistent, 
but it is real. It is pushed so far that the true 
doctrine of creation often breaks out, as an under- 
lying truth will do, so that it would be held as 
clearly taught were it not contradicted in other pas- 
sages, and by the pervading idea of the system, 
which is not that of creation, but of self-diversifying. 
" I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all 
things"! .... "I am entity, and non-entity," is a 
summary of true Pantheism. But this presents to us 
a conscious Being, one who knows his own existence, 
and what he is. Again, a few words condense much 
teaching: "He makes him to do good deeds whom he 
wishes to bring out of this world ; and him he makes 
to do evil deeds whom he wishes to bring ag^in into 
the world."2 Here, instead of being an impersonal 
stream, or some such thing, Brahm is a being who 
wishes, designs, discriminates, and causes. Here, 
also, both good deeds and evil deeds are his doing. 
In this expression the distinction between good deeds 
and evil ones breaks through, notwithstanding its fla- 
grant contradiction with the doctrine that all deeds are 
equally the operations of one sole and divine agent 
Nature and older truth are stronger than the meta- 



' Bhagavat Gita, Sect. X., Garrett's ed., Bangalore, 1S46. 
' Upatn'shadsy quoted in Mullen^s Hindu Philosophy^ p. 141. 



ILL US J ON AND PHENOMENA . 883 



physical deductions of speculators. There are dif- 
ferent qualities of deeds, and Pantheism boldly 
ascribes good and bad ones to God alone. Yet to us 
it assigns the f)enalty of the bad ones. If we do evil 
actions we have to come back to earth, it may be as 
goats or fleas, as elephants or pariahs, according to 
the degree of our demerit. But why we should be 
chai^eable with demerit is a question that Pan- 
theism can no more answer than human nature can 
help asking ; and why pain should follow actions of 
one kind and pleasure those of another, seeing all 
actions proceed from God alone, is another question 
for which no answer is forthcoming. In fact, the 
assertion, " I am the same to all mankind," is directly 
contradicted by the fact of punishment; and how 
really the relegating of faulty souls to earth again 
is a punishment appears in the words, "Because 
mankind are unacquainted with my nature they fall 
again from heaven." They are therefore severely 
punished, and thus recognised as distinct beings, 
as accountable agents ; all which contradicts the 
principle of universal identity. The wicked are even 
spoken of as " trusting to the deceitful, diabolic, and 
wicked principle within them."^ A system originat- 
ing in Pantheism could never give birth to such 
expressions. They involve a whole group of ideas 
inconsistent with it : personality, corrupted nature, 

■ Bhagavat Gita, 



334 AGNOSTICISM, 



conflicting principles ; older truths overlaid but crop- 
ping out. 

Whether we are to accept the doctrine of illusory 
phenomena or that of revealing phenomena, is a 
vital point between us and the Agnostics. It 

Science ^^ ^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ things of which we 
Dependent know nothing are those which offer 

Tntthfuiness ^^ "^ ^^ appearances, whether directly 
of to the sense or indirectly through their 

Appearances, effects. It is also a fact that those 
things which we best know are such as have 
appeared often to us, and through different senses. 
Both of these facts vindicate Appearance as a 
messenger of light, not of darkness. The science of 
astronomy would be mere guesses were not appear- 
ances truthful indices of the present, truthful re- 
membrancers of the past, truthful presages of the 
future. The science of navigation would come to an 
end could not men rely on well-observed appearances. 
Geology grounds its conclusions on appearances, even 
after they have long been subject to modifying 
influences, and could not advance a step if they were 
mere play. Could you destroy in our doctors their 
faith in appearances, properly interpreted, as giving 
real information, you would destroy the science of 
medicine. " A true appearance " does not mean one 
that says, I have no substance behind me, but one 
that says, I have such and such a substance behind 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 335 

me, and makes its profession good upon proof. A 
false appearance is one that does not make good its 
profession. " Deceptive " appearances often mean 
those which seem to promise some future event, such 
as a storm, or a favourable poll at an election, or else 
it may be of things out of sight, as, say, land to those 
at sea. " He misread the appearances *' may express 
a serious reflection on a man's judgment. " Such 
appearances never deceive,'' is familiar as an ex- 
pression, but far more so as an axiom acted upon 
without hesitation in every movement of life from the 
appearance of the grate and the matchbox in the 
morning to the appearance of the bedroom door at 
night. 

When first I beheld an appearance which had 
already been a thousand times before my mind s 
eye, that of Wellington, it never occurred to me that 
the Duke and the appearance were interchangeable 
terms. When the man turned the comer the appear- 
ance ceased, but it never struck me that the Duke 
had ceased. No more was I struck by any fear that 
the appearance disguised the fine old man, or even 
disguised his coat or hat. So, again, when I saw 
Soult, who had measured swords with him. It did 
not seem in this case that the appearance was a 
Frenchman any more than in the other that it was 
an Englishman. Still it seemed as if in the one 
case the appearance had set before me a Frenchman 



386 AGNOSTICISM. 



and in the other an Englishman whom, but for it' 
I might have gone all the days of my life without 
being able to set so really before my mind. Nor did it 
strike me that in the case of Frenchman or English- 
man it would have made the difference of a hair or 
of a button to them whether I had seen them or not 
In one word, I took the appearances for appearances 
and not for men, and took seeing the appearance for 
seeing the appearance and not for making the man 
and the appearance both. This last expression will 
seem absurd to those who have never been bewildered 
by philosophers and their fancies about the human 
mind making things outside of us. 

Furthermore, as bearing on the question of disguise, 
when later I saw Soult in the Chamber of Peers, the 
contrast between his appearance there and what it 
was in Whitehall, as ablaze in his orders he sat in his 
silvered coach, did not strike me as disguising 
realities. Rather it seemed to be a difference in 
appearances which revealed a difference in the 
realities. It seemed to say, Yonder he was the 
representative of France at the crowning of a British 
Queen ; here he is a servant of France waiting upon 
her in his daily duty. 

We should scarcely expect to find that the same 
philosopher who formally defines things as appear- 
ances, and who habitually assumes in reasoning that 
the phenomena constitute the things, and also that 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 337 

they disguise them, should be the one to write : " It 
is rigorously impossible to conceive that our knowledge 
is a knowledge of appearances; for appearance 
without reality is unthinkable."^ That this general 
principle should be combined with the treatment of 
particular cases which pervades Mr. Spencer's works 
would to many seem " rigorously impossible to 
conceive." 

This inconsistency is far from being the effect of a 
transient lapse of attention. It has a far deeper 
Spencef^s ^^luse. The reality of which phenomena 
Universal are the appearances is not to the Agnostic, 
Substance as to US, a substance proper to each thing 
taken individually and specially indicated by appro- 
priate appearances. On the contrary, the Reality is 
one universal substance, sole and continuous in time, 
sole and continuous in space, which appears within us, 
which appears without, which is in itself the All-Being. 
Hence appearances are not truly appearances, but 
disguises — the antitheses of appearances, which are 
the manifestation of one person to another, or of a 
thing to a person ; whereas disguises are expedients 
for preventing an appearance from conveying the 
truth ; and, in the case supposed, for deceiving 
parts of the same being by giving them an 
impression that they are distinct from the whole, and 
hold intercourse with it. If there is in existence but 

First Prin.^ \ 26. 



338 AGNOSTICISM. 



one substance, and no other being to which it can be 
manifested, and if all appearances are no more than 
tremors in that one substance, then manifestly each 
appearance indicative of a separate individual is a 
sheer illusion, and phenomena in the total are properly 
called an all-nothingness. They may seem to be 
heavens and earth, forces and motion, form and 
thought, man and beast, war and repose, but they are 
all only curls of foam on the same stream ; not even 
that — all only oscillations in the same cord ; not even 
that — they are All-nothingness. 

This conception, so closely allied to the Pantheistic 
one, carries with it the same broad incongruity which 
encumbers that theory. How can nothingness be 
deluded ? how can it think, how imagine that things 
appear to it ? how can it meet one appearance by 
suppressing it, and another by rendering it per- 
manent? how can nothingness construct Synthetic 
Philosophies ? 

Although Mr. Spencer groups together all kinds of 
phenomena under the one heading of All-Nothingness^ 
it is to be said that he does not believe in two kinds 
of nothing. A noteworthy argument of his for 
refusing to look upon time and space as nonentities 
is that to do so ** involves the absurdity that there are 
two kinds of nothing." Perhaps it only involves the 
assertion that two things of which people speak are 
both nothing. One may say that a griffin is nothing 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 339 

and that a phcenix is nothing without beh'eving in 
two kinds of nothing. But surely two kinds of it 
need not embarrass one who can put all phenomena 
into the category of nothingness. If men and cattle, 
fields and farming implements, markets, congresses, 
parliaments, churches, are all so much differentiated 
nothingness, surely there must be a considerable 
variety of nothings. 

If appearances disguise realities, we should be wiser 

without them. This would involve the consequence 

that a Laura Bridgeman almost destitute 

arues did ^^ ^^e senses was less deluded by external 
Disguise nature than a person equipped with all the 
five. But if over against the ignorance of 
a man who cannot see you set the optical illusions of 
a man who can, the latter shrink up into nothing, 
while the stores of information obtained through eye- 
sight expand to incalculable values. If we were 
absolutely without senses, no phenomena could reach 
us to cause illusions, or could intervene as disguises 
between us and realities. The conception of a world 
constituted on such a principle would be practically 
this, that the error incident to finite knowledge would 
be excluded, because there would be no finite know- 
ledge of external things. In what a world of in- 
errancy should we then dwell! But it would be 
the inerrancy of those who because of total darkness 
cannot attempt to walk, and therefore cannot miss 



840 AGNOSTICISM. 



their way. The system of communication in nature 
is a system of truthfulness ; and one who holds it to 
be a system of illusion, feeling, as he must do, that we 
should be wiser without it, should try to picture to 
himself a human race in which every mind was en- 
closed in a body destitute of senses — a body through 
which no phenomena could penetrate. Such a race 
would not suffer from disguises ; but it would be un- 
fitted either to enjoy this world or to exercise any 
influence over the course of its history. All Mr. 
Spencer's speculations on the mode in which organs 
and senses were built up constitute a ponderous 
satire upon his principle of disguises and illusions. 

IV. — A Deceptive Universe or a Veracious One, 

Were the universe the work of two antagonistic 
Powers, each of which gave being to its own agents 
for its proper ends, it would be natural that no com- 
munity of nature should link together those two alien 
races of beings, and that no method of communication 
should serve to combine them into one harmonious 
system. On the contrary, it would be natural that 
within each separate order all things should tend to 
the support of the one Power and the antagonizing 
of tlie other. If mind being the work of a good Power 
were itself good, and matter being the work of an evil 
Power were itself evil, they would be habitually in 
conflict, each seeking the destruction of the other. If 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 341 

light were the messenger of the good Power and dark- 
ness of the evil one, they would never as mom and 
eve unite to make one day ; would never cooperate to 
bless our globe by jointly fostering life, to which the 
coming of the light brings the joy of action, and that 
of darkness the boon of rest. 

To take a second supposition, If the universe were 
not the work either of two Powers or of One ; if it were 
not a work, a product, a creation at all ; if it were only 
an indescribable, unknowable sport of seeming changes 
in one and the selfsame substance, so that neither 
matter nor mind, neither life nor spirit was anything 
but an illusion, and — take good heed — illusion without 
any separate being to illude or be illuded, — then 
attempting to reason on any system of coordination 
among non-realities, of correspondence between non- 
entities, of communication from non-existing person 
to non-existing person, would be no better than 
shooting at shadows. 

But if, according to a third supposition, the universe 
is the work of a single Power and a good One ; if 

^ ^ , matter be as much the creature of a 

A System of 

Communication beneficent God as mind ; if it is in His 
Part of a ^jg^ good and very good, then it would 

Truthful World, ^ ^ > 

seem natural that between the two 
should be established some medium of correspondence. 
Sprung from a common parentage, they would 
naturally be related to one another for some common 



342 AGNOSTICISM. 



ends. If mind were made to employ matter, surely 
means would be provided enabling it to impress 
its volitions upon matter. If matter were made to 
serve mind, surely means would be provided whereby 
its existence and properties should be made known 
to mind. To command matter, mind must be able 
to impress upon it motion, form, and properties. The 
means to this end are to make each mind a centre and 
mistress of several forces. To serve mind, matter 
must give to it knowledge of its presence and also of 
its properties. The means to this end are to make each 
portion of matter a centre and source of appearances 
varying as its properties vary. 

It is obvious that the utility of any exercise of 
force must depend on the truthfulness of appearances. 
For every movement of mind with a view to impress 
matter must be a movement in error, or at least at 
random, unless the mind first knows what body to act 
upon, where to find it, and how to reach it. Without a 
system of appearances informing mind of matter, 
and of forces impressing the volitions of mind on 
matter, our world would be a world of the dead. 
The senses are the channel of this double system 
of correspondence, or rather of connection ; for true 
correspondence there is none; matter never either 
inviting or repelling communication, never feeling 
resentment for neglect or thanks for attention. 

Are, then, the senses set for our illusion? 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 343 

V. — The Senses Organs in suck a System. 

The series of the senses extending from within 
outwards, begins with one whose range does reach 
even to the surface of the frame, and terminates with 
one whose range reaches beyond the most distant 
measurement of science. If their office is to illude 
by disguises, the disguises cover all objects from those 
within the lips to those beyond the visible stars. 
Taste, the sense most confined in its range, yields no 
information as to the flavour of a body till it has 
actually passed within the frame and touches the 
palate. Touch yields none as to the consistency or 
tennperature of a body till it actually comes in contact 
with our own frame without or within. Smell ranges 
farther, yielding information as to the odour of a body 
at some distance from the person, anywhere in the 
room, in the house, or in the immediate surroundings. 
Hearing ranges still further, yielding information as 
to the noises emitted by a body, it may be a mile or 
miles away. Sight ranges farthest of all, yielding 
information of forms and colours from our own world, 
from space between it and others, and from those 
other worlds innumerably multiplied. 

Now, does Taste mislead us as to flavours, Touch as to 

consistency. Smell as to odours, Hearing as to sounds 

l^hiir or Sight as to forms and colours? Is the 

Veracity, palate the seat of a deception as to sweet and 

bitter, the skin the seat of a deception as to consistency 



344 AGNOSTICISM, 



and temperature, the nose of one as to healthy and foul 
odours, the ear of one as to friendly or menacing noises, 
the eye of one as to forms living or dead, mild or fero- 
cious? On the other hand, does not the palate sense, 
confined as it is in range, and limited as it is to the 
purposes of the individual, become by its uses, as 
guarding our nutrition, the means of preserving the 
race? It is our alimentary sense. Does not the dermal 
sense, unable to act beyond the bounds of our body, 
serve to regulate all its relations with other bodies, all 
its motions and locomotions, so becoming a real guide 
to all the arts, from the touch of the dairymaid to the 
touch of the sculptor or musician? Touch is our 
mechanical sense. Does not the sense which as to its 
range might be called the household sense guard 
what we breathe just as Taste guards what we eat. 
performing offices for us without which healthy 
homes and habitable cities were impossible? Smell 
is our sanatory sense. Does not the sense which as 
to its range might be called the vicinal sense enable 
us to pour our thoughts into the minds of other men, 
to impress our commands on the minds of animals, 
and to receive from a distance notices from both of 
these? Hearing is our social sense. And, finally, does 
not the sense which as to its range might be called 
the boundless sense enable us truly to know the form 
of our own infants, of the grass and the com, truly 
to know somewhat of the moon, of the sun, and of 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 346 



worlds further away. Sight is our cosmic sense. 
All and every one, the senses are servants of light for 
us, not of darkness ; servants of a King who dwells 
in light, and not of a grim something which hides 
among phantasms. 

To each sense in particular belong the two attri- 
butes of appropriateness and incompleteness. Taste is 
incompleteness skilled in savour, but not in sound. Hear- 

ofEach. ing is skilled in sound, but not in colour. 
So with the others. Each bespeaks our attention 
to other sources of information in the very act of 
contributing its own. Sight ranges so immeasur- 
ably beyond all the others that it compels us to see 
how little we should know if left to them alone. 
Having thus proved the incompleteness of the other 
senses, it next proves its own. It compels us to seek 
what it cannot show. Wide as is its sweep, its 
penetration is small. It never carries us below the 
surface. Yet it exhibits forms which at once tell that 
the surface is a trifling portion of the whole. Even 
of the surface it tells us only the form and colour, 
leaving all our desires to know further points to be 
satisfied by other senses, or by inferences of reason. 
In showing us the flight of a hawk, it leaves us to learn 
all about the mechanism employed and the mind 
that works it In showing us the sunlight reflected 
from objects on earth and issuing from its source, it 
leaves us to learn all about its course from the start- 

A A 



346 AGNOSTICISM, 



ing point to the goal ; to learn whether or not there 
are relays of fresh forces by the way, whether the 
whole journey is performed on one straight line, or 
whether there are pulsations and rhythm of motion. 
In the night it shows us how the body of the earth 
can conceal from us the existence of the sun; and at 
the same time shows how much of the universe he 
when shining conceals from us, even in the act of 
giving to us a revelation of our own world without 
which we should be in all but absolute ignorance of it, 
supposing that we could exist upon it at all. The 
total effect, therefore, of the lessons of sight is not 
that it illudes us, but that it reveals in part At the 
most distant point to which assisted by the telescope 
sight can carry us, it leaves us on the threshold of 
new, unknown regions, wherein we can discern neither 
plant nor animal, only space with matter and motion. 
At the minutest point of space to which assisted by 
the microscope sight can descend, it leaves us amid 
wondrous forms of life and on the threshold of realms 
of life still unseen. Every sense proclaims its own 
office to be partial : colour is inaudible, sound is 
intangible, taste is invisible ; all objects have proper- 
ties which elude all the five senses, and yet those 
which are discovered by them are truly known, ** In 
part" is inscribed on the dome and the foundations 
of the temple of Knowledge, and covers all its walls. 
The senses are obviously but givers' of hints to the 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 347 



reason, or at most, purveyors of detatched data on 
which reason may operate, and from which it may 
educe connected and harmonious truths. But to 
enable it to arrive at truths, and not to mistify it by 
disguises, is manifestly their office. 

Each sense has one of its poles directed to the 

object special to itself, and the other pole directed to 

XhHr an observer. For all the five the observer is 

Tioofoid one and the same mind ; but for each of the 
five the object is a different one. Thus they 
resemble five telescopes whose inner ends converge 
while their outer ones diverge. The different objects 
proper to the respective senses may all be seated 
inseparable in one and the same part of space, inher- 
ing in a common substance ; yet from that common 
substance will each particular sense choose out its 
proper object and report to the observer-mind on that 
alone. The substance may be a mineral. To the sense 
of Taste the object is not the colour of the mineral, or 
its hardness, or its sonorous qualities, or its odour, but 
only its flavour. The report of Taste upon that may 
enable the observer to say Salt ; but it is by hardness, 
to which Touch speaks, by shape and colour, to which 
Sight speaks, that he can be so informed as to say Rock- 
salt. Or, on the other hand, the one object of the par- 
ticular sense may be seated in substances wide apart, 
even by millions of miles, and yet will the sense 
combine its observation of both into one, so that the 

A A 2 



348 A GNOSTICISM. 



light of the moon and that of Aldebaran shall both be 
known as light, though light coming from different 
fountains. Thus does sense unite with sense to bring 
from various quarters convergent rays of information 
before the observer, clearly acting as members one 
of another, and all as servants of a master whose pres- 
ence is their common centre. They serve a system 
of dominion founded upon Knowledge, a system of 
dominion wherein Knowledge is power. 

No one will contend that eyes made colouring 

matter or that ears made sound. Pigment and eye 

are obviously two totally independent 

Medium . n,, . 

between things, and so are noise and ear. That is, 
Object and object and organ are in nature things so 
^^^' separate as to be incapable of evolving one 
another. Neither will anyone contend that eyes or 
pigment made the light, without which eyes could 
never know whether the pigment was of this kind or 
of that. That is, organ and ' object are in nature 
things so separate from the medium through which 
they cooperate that they are incapable of evolving it. 
The same truth is exhibited in the c^se of air, the 
medium between an ear and a sonorous body. No 
one believes that either ear or sounding-board made 
the air, or could evolve it, any more than the air 
could make the ear, make the board, or set it in vibra- 
tion. Now, the fact is broadly marked on the face of 
nature that in the case of the three higher senses. 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 349 



smelly hearing, and sight, the medium is one extend- 
ing between object and organ for spaces which vary 
from a few inches to countless miles. In every case 
the medium is of a nature totally different from that 
of either object or organ, so different that, before 
experience had, we should confidently pronounce it 
chimerical to combine into one chain resulting in a 
sensation the action of a star, of ether, of air, and of 
an eyeball. In the case of both smell and hearing 
the medium is air ; but the mode of its action differs 
in the two cases. Between a flower and a nostril the 
air simply carries particles of matter, and if it flows in 
the wrong direction carries them away. It is just 
the action of a current conveying bodies with it 
Between a bell and an ear the air is not a current 
carrying bodies, but a vibrating medium transmitting 
a wave of motion. 

The difference between a current and a wave is 
this : a current is a forward movement of the mass, 
bearing onward any smaller body cast in ; a wave is 
a forward movement, not of the mass, but of a vibra- 
tion in it, leaving the mass behind, and also any 
smaller bodies that may be in it, but transmitting 
the motion. The movement of a door on its hinge 
creates a current of air which will carry flocks of 
down in its own direction, but will make no sound. 
The creaking of a hinge will not create a current to 
carry anything, but will create a vibration, a sound, 



360 AGNOSTIC/SAL 



which goes not only in one direction but in all 
directions, and is comparatively little affected by 
the direction of the current of air. An explosion 
creates both a current of air, which mechanically 
dashes on objects within its reach, and a vibration in 
air which, as sound, travels at its own rate and affects 
only ears, not ordinary surfaces. The two effects of 
an explosion are often confounded, and the current of 
flowing air is treated of as if it were the sonorous vibra- 
tion ; its breaking of windows figuring as part of the 
phenomena of sound, which it no more is than is 
similar breaking from a rush of water. When any 
fragile substance is broken really by vibrations of 
sound, the conditions are perfectly distinct. 

Ears or vibrating bodies have no more to do with 
evolving air than have birds' wings, or drops of rain. 

Do They ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ adaptation to a sonorous body 
Evolve One at one end and to an ear at the other end 
'^ are as necessary to hearing as either the car 

or vibration. If ears evolved air, or eyes evolved 
ether, or if, contrariwise, undulations in ether wher- 
ever they touched bodies evolved eyes, or undulations 
in air wherever they touched bodies evolved ears, we 
might suppose that nature had given us some clue 
to processes of evolution, the pursuit of which in 
labyrinths without clue is now a favourite exercise of 
many philosophers. But here we are confronted with 
the fact that between organ and object intervenes a 



ILL VSION AND PHENOMENA. 35 1 



medium alien from both, incapable of producing 
either, incapable of being produced by either, yet 
cooperating with each ; cooperating, however, in modes 
unconscious to any of the three, and yet for ends 
effected through such cooperation as by one designing 
operator. It is the unconscious cooperation of distinct 
parts of an instrument, for purposes unknown to it, 
and alien from its materials, but purposes formed 
by the author of that instrument. The adaptation of 
the medium to the object at one end, say of ether to 
the combustion in a star, and to the organ at the 
other end, say of vibration in ether to an eye, has to 
be sustained over a space which exceeds not only 
measure but imagination, and at every throb in all 
its progress it laughs at notions of mere evolution. 

If in using the word organ as meaning instrument, 
1 only employ it in its proper sense, that is the very 
What is an fcason why in the present day the fact should 

Organ'i be noted, if not apologized for. An instru- 
ment presupposes an agent whose organ it is, and 
involves an end for which the agent employs it. The 
habit of indifferently describing as agents things 
which cannot properly act, which only move as they 
are impelled, knowing neither who impels them nor 
wherefore he does it, and persons who act, know that 
they act, know for what end they act, and use in- 
struments for that end — this habit leads to such 
confusion that in the hands of many the word organ 



226 AGNOSTICISM, 



often seems to be equivalent to a self-determining 
agent. Yet in such hands a self-determining agent 
is often theoretically held to be non-existent, 
although in nature his existence is perpetually, if 
impertinently, thrust upon our attention. An organ 
in a technical sense may be taken as a specialized 
feature of a living body, fitted to discharge some 
special function. 

But what is a living body? According to the prince 
of the Positivists, a living body is one that absorbs 
and exhales. That is just what air has always been 
doing by day and by night; absorbing and exhaling 
water, heat, and other things as well. According to 
the prince of Agnostics, a living body is one which 
effects "a continuous adjustment of internal relations 
to external relations." Now, of all things, air is 
just such a body. Its internal relations are those 
of oxygen to nitrogen and carbon, and these are 
adjusted to the external relations of heat, light, water, 
plants, lungs, gills, wings, and hosts of other things. 
They are "continuously" adjusted, with a true con- 
tinuity which makes the adjustments of sleep or 
nutrition seem intermittent, and with a long-estab- 
lished continuity which makes the oldest animal or 
even plant appear of low antiquity. Yet neither by 
its absorbing and exhaling nor by its continuous 
adjustments does air evolve organs of sense and 
perception. 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 353 

Whether an organ is a part of a living body 
or a lifeless tool, it is in its nature simply the 
material instrument of mind. The peculiarity of 
every living organ is its two sides, one for conveying 
material impressions from external nature inwards 
to the mind, and the other for conveying move- 
ments of mind — volitions — outwards to external 
nature. Instead of saying two sides, we should come 
nearer to expressing the fact by saying an up line and 
a down line ; the up line carrying reports from object 
to observer, the down one carrying movements from 
observer to object. Each of these two lines must 
have its two poles: its start and its terminus. By one 
pole of its up line the organ receives from the 
medium through which the object addressed it a 
material impression; by the other it delivers such 
impression to the observer — mind, which has to 
transform it into an idea of the object. By the one 
pole of its down line the organ receives from mind an 
impulse which by the other pole it communicates to 
some external object This is not, as it is often 
called, a passive and an active side of the life of 
man. It is a two-sided activity. Passive reception of 
impressions i^ correctly spoken of only in relation 
to lifeless bodies. The human organs actively modify 
the impressions made through the medium, modify 
them at the first moment of impact, and continue 
making new modifications at every stage up to the 



354 A GNOS TICISAL 

final transfiguration, from a material impression to 
a mental idea. 

It is not till that transfiguration has been effected 
that we have a sensation : — the mental consciousness 
Conversi r ^^ ^ Certain impression and of its coming 
Impressions from somc external body, that is, external 
into Thought. ^^ ^^ mind ; for the impression may have 
its starting point in the Southern Cross or in our 
own corns. But all that the one or the other can emit 
would fail — does fail — to give conscious impressions of 
constellation or of com to anything but a living mind. 
Every piece of knowledge of things external must, 
then, begin by a cooperation of an object, a medium, 
an organ, and a mind. Any one of these failing, no 
sensation can be experienced, consequently no further 
acts of mind. Of members in the series only one, 
mind, is conscious of what is taking place. The others 
are instruments, but not altogether its instruments, 
at least in their action inwards. It cannot produce 
them, nor fully guide them ; and they may act in 
spite of it. In their action outwards they arc its 
instruments, acting or not acting at its behest. 

We say it cannot produce these organs A stone 
Power of could do as much towards producing 

Mind to , , . 11 

Diminish ^ peacock s voice as can a peacock. A 

Labour while fowl could do as much towards producing 

^Work*^ for itself human lungs as can a man. Yet 

in man this absence of power to produce living 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 356 

organs is coupled with the power of supplementing 
with inanimate ones those which have been bestowed 
upon him, so that he is able to lighten bodily 
labour and at the same time to increase the work 
done. This is a fact so conspicuous and so rich in 
results that, instead of all motions having mechanical 
equivalents and effects on a calculable scale, it may 
be taken as a principle that when the human frame 
moves under trained intellect, the expenditure of 
mechanical force lessens in proportion as the power 
of accomplishing work increases. When a bobbin of 
weft is carried between the warp by hand alone, the 
expenditure of strength in proportion to the work 
done is great. When it is carried by a hand-shuttle, 
a contrivance of mind has reduced the expenditure 
of force and raised the amount of work. When 
the hand-shuttle is replaced by the fly-shuttle, a 
fresh contrivance of mind has caused still greater 
diminution of labour and increase of work. Yet 
in all of these cases the motive-power has to be 
supplied by the hand. When, however, the steam- 
shuttle flies without any hand, a higher contrivance 
of mind has notably accelerated the rate at which 
labour diminishes and work done increases. 

In this case it is to be noted that the hand-shuttle 
which taxes the body for every unit of force which 
impels it is really not more an organ of the man's 
mind than the steam-shuttle which does not tax his 



Jo6 AGNOSTICISM. 



body except for an almost imperceptible amount of 
force. The volition, indeed, has to be passed through 
fire, water, iron, leather, and other things, in order to 
reach its goal; but through them all the intellect does 
find a way for it, and that volition as much impels 
the steam-shuttle without hand as the primitive 
shuttle with the hand. It is easy to suppose that by 
calculating the cells in the coal consumed, the forces 
set free by combustion, the proportions of the 
expanding water, the play of the piston, and all the 
operations of the gear, you are offering an explana- 
tion of how the shuttle flies. All you are explaining 
is the chain of processes which the intellect has 
devised for conveying the volition through artificial 
channels to effect by subsidiary forces what at first 
it could effect only by the direct play of mental force 
upon the body. The explanation of the intervening 
processes is valuable ; but when it assumes to be 
more than that, to be an account of origin, means, 
and end all in one, then it ceases to be reasonable, 
ceases to be even specious. 

It is no law of mere equivalence of force which 
brings together lighter effort and heavier work, 
diminishing expenditure of strength and increasing 
amount of labour performed. That is an order of 
things which cannot be established except in the 
realm where mind asserts its dominion over matter : 
an order possible only where mind lifts motion out of 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 367 

the groove of inanimate force, and confers on it a 
power of originating motions more than equivalent — 
multiplied ; and not only multiplied but heterogeneous. 
A whistle, an upheld finger, a touch on a spring may- 
let loose or may arrest a fleet of forces whose power 
of work would demand for their antecedent, on the 
principle of mechanical equivalence, not such tiny 
movements, but the stroke of a Titan. Now, in all 
this employment of external organs fashioned by 
itself out of material nature the mind receives ample 
proof that its perceptions of that nature are not 
illusive, but, on the contrary, are such as fit it to 
exercise dominion over matter, with precision and 
calculable efTect. 

Confining ourselves to organs of sense, we insist 
that they are the channels of true knowledge of body 
by mind. As the appearance is the speech of bodies, 
so is the organ the ear of the listening mind. If 
eye and ear, if nostril and palate are organs of 
illusion, their existence at all seems incomprehensible. 
It cannot be explained on the principle of chance, 
seeing they are so full of adaptations. It cannot be 
explained on the principle of evolution ; for on that 
principle nothing is permanent but what is fittest 
for its end, and if their end is disguise, demonstrably 
their fitness is not for that. If there were a Power 
capable of devising apparatuses so wonderful, and 
yet delighting in darkness so that its object was 



868 AGNOSTICISM, 



to hinder us from knowing, why should that Power 
display the skill and might evidenced by these 
organs, when its end would be gained by letting 
things alone? Gems and plants are successful in 
knowing nothing without being encumbered with 
eyes and ears Surely of them or of any creature 
all would say, Either leave them as they are or 
give them trustworthy organs. 

Assuming, then, that organs of sense are bona fide 

organs of knowledge, and assuming that by the knov/- 

ledge acquired through them our place in the scheme 

What the of the universe is very greatly affected, we 

Existeme j^j^y j^j^^ What is involved in the exist- 

Organ ^^^e oi an organ? It manifestly involves a 
Involves, coordination in successive stages : first, as 
between observer and organ ; secondly, as between 
observer, organ, and medium ; thirdly, as between 
observer, organ, medium, and object. A failure at any 
point in this group of coordinations, and no know- 
ledge could result If it is to be a case of sight, no 
object upon earth can show itself to us. No combi- 
nation of human powers can show it without light 
That medium is both a substance and a motion in 
that substance, ether and undulation of ether. The 
undulation has to come far and to cross other forces 
on its way. It is not one motion, not one rate of 
motion, but several. All this correlation has to be 
sustained at every point on the way up to our atmo- 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA. 3i59 



sphere, and from the time when that is entered upon 
has to be further complicated by new correlations. 

The body which is an object of vision has certain 
properties which reflect this motion rather than that 
of the light, and so makes us see the red rays and not 
the blue, or vice versa. The medium between it and 
the eye is not merely undulating ether, but also 
atmosphere, a derangement of which would, as a fog 
tells us, prevent object and organ from coming into 
correspondence. The eye, then, has to be adjusted 
to the light as it comes out of the sky unbroken, to 
the modification of it which is made by the bodies 
reflecting it, and to the modifications made by the 
atmosphere. 

Is it so adjusted, or, on the contrary, is there nothing 
special to fit it for special uses? Let it be remembered 
that the light reflected by objects does not strike only 
upon the eye, but is dashed in ceaseless waves against 
any part of the person. The German proverb says 
that by night all cats are grey ; and so outside of an eye 
all sunbeams are colourless. The temples or cheek know 
no distinction between violet and orange. We cannot 
speak of mere motion, but of motion related in a special 
mode to an observer and his organ of observation. 
Whatever mere motion can do is done as effectually 
by rays of light falling on the breast as by those 
falling on the retina. Only at a single minute point 
of the person is an organ prepared by which motions 



360 AGNOSTICISM. 



undiscoverable by every other thing upon earth are 
converted into indices of bodies at a distance, which 
indices are by the observing mind again converted 
into sensations of form and colour. And nothing 
but mind can effect this transformation. It is easy 
to say that what is objectively motion is subjec- 
tively thought Where is it subjectively thought? 
wherever the motions strike ? Nay ! Where is it 
subjectively human thought? anywhere but in a 
human mind ? 

What is objectively motion is subjectively thought, 
hence the distinction between Observer and Object is 
needless ! Is the motion of the sunbeams ever 
Motion thought when they light on a stone or a 
and pond? It will be confessed that all the 
Thought, countless motions of the sunbeams go for 
nothing as to producing vision so long as they take 
effect upon inanimate bodies. There they are not 
objective, that is, are not things thought about, 
because there is no observer to think about them. 
But, still more, when leaving inanimate nature we 
come to animated, are the motions of sunbeams ever 
turned into thought when they fall on the plumage 
of a bird or the fur of a squirrel ? They absolutely 
reveal nothing to the feathers, nothing to the hairs, 
but when shot against the retina they reveal what 
makes bird or squirrel glad or fearful. Yet the rays 
that die unmeaning on the back of the bird's head or 



ILL USION AND PHENOMENA, 361 

on the tip of the squirrel's tail come from the same 
object as those which inform the eye, and travel with 
the same undulations. The impact of the same 
motions, at most points of the creature's frame, 
leaves it unconscious of them and their source, but is 
at another point, and at one only, turned into a view 
of a nut, or a cherry, or a cat ; and this is no delusion, 
for the objects are really there. The motions are 
constituted an object only by the presence of an 
observer, and, the observer present, the motions are 
not the principal object, but only a link between 
him and it. Rays falling into a telescope which 
has not an observer behind it are as capable of 
turning into astronomical discoveries as are rays fall- 
ing upon anything but the organ of a mind of turning 
into thought. Therefore, however subtly we may say 
that if we had instruments of observation sufficiently 
fine we should see that what is objectively motion is 
subjectively thought, we fail of creating facts to coun- 
tenance the guess, and we do not nullify the fact that 
motions never turn to thought in inanimate creatures ; 
that motions of light never turn to bird thought till 
they have reached the eye of a bird, or to squirrel 
thought till they have reached the eye of a squirrel ; 
and that all the motions which ever flashed into the 
eyes of the animal creation never evolve one human 
thought. In fact, speaking of what is objectively mo- 

tion presupposes what it is intended to do away with, 

B B 



862 AGNOSTICISM. 



Mind. No motion is objective to mindless things, or 
to anything but mind. Whether it be motion in 
molecules or motion in mass, motion in rhythm or 
motion irregular, it never will be an object to a bow 
or a rifle. No mind, no object. The motions are a 
wonderful system of agencies for making known to 
mind through appropriate organs the properties of 
body, a system by virtue of which the distance 
which gives to bodies room is prevented from be- 
coming [complete isolation — a system of connecting 
cords traversing the distance. 

What is true in respect of the sense of sight holds 

good of the organs of the other senses. Each has 

its proper object, its proper medium. 

Common 

Relation of ^^^ ^^^ proper functions between object 
Organs and and observer, which functions absolutely 

Aphcarances. ,, . i r i£i •n' i_ 

nothmg else can fulfil. Each organ is a 
channel of appearances : for we are not with Mr- 
Spencer to take visual appearances as the only kind 
of them. " Resistance without appearance, " he says» 
** we decide to be body; as when striking against 
any object in the dark. Appearance without re- 
sistance we decide not to be body ; as in the case 
of optical illusions." ' Appearance is not, as here 
assumed, confined to vision. The object against 
which we knock at night appears to our feeling as 
well as the one we see by day does to our sight. We 

^ Pritt. of Psycho! flg)', § 348. 






ILL US ION AND PHENOMENA . 363 

say, It appeared like a post, or it appeared like a 
beam of timber ; in the one case just as we should in 
the other. As an entrance for appearances each par- 
ticular organ is a true portal of communication, and 
not a screen cunningly disguised. Altogether they 
vindicate their office by enabling us to deal with the 
various bodies in nature, and to hold dominion over 
them. Man and child, in their relations with material 
objects, concur in trusting these organs as faithful 
guides. The same house, whenever seen, is home to 
master and child, to cat and dog. The field that is 
green to the herdsman is green to the herd. The 
truthfulness wherewith the senses present the appear- 
ances of nature is graven upon consciousness, tested 
by experience, and illustrated by the harmonious 
interpretation which those appearances receive from 
various races of creatures, beast of the field, fowl of 
the air, and man, the Head of them all. 

Phenomena are not disguises ; and the impressions 
they give to us are not illusions. Had some goblin 
power been minded to befool us, he would have con- 
trived a system of misleading shows. But a Prince 
of Light, minded to bless us with knowledge and 
power, wills that bodies should be known and that 
mind should know them. Had He been otherwise 
minded, body and mind might have been like a ship 
and a pilot in a pitch dark night, lying close to one 
another, each unseen, the ship waiting for a pilot and 

B B 2 



304 AGNOSTICISM. 



the pilot longing for a ship. But, that separation by 
darkness not by distance should not prevail, He sent 
between body and mind his Iris, an Appearance, 
born in part of body, in part of mind. Issuing 
from body, yet incorporeal, intangible, imponderable, 
Appearance flits noiseless as the day ; with changeful 
guise coming different to the door of each particular 
sense, and through each delivering messages, all of 
which testify to a Revealer intending man to enjoy 
knowledge and taste its profitableness. 

If phenomena are disguises, consciousness itself 

must be a deluder. No one dilates more upon 

j^ consciousness than Mr. Spencer ; it is on 

Comaousness states of consciousness, tracts of con- 

niustve? sciousness, and manifold modifications of 
consciousness that he builds his fabric. Nevertheless, 
he waves his hand and brushes aside universal con- 
sciousness as a heartless deceiver, the moment he 
finds it standing in the way of his theory of human 
action. He has to prove that the dreamers are right 
and the doers wrong ; that our actions are not self- 
determined, but strictly necessitated motions. And, 
therefore, the consciousness of all actors, including 
that of the dreamers themselves when they are acting, 
not dreaming, must be branded as illusive. 

An important passage which I shall give at full will 
form a natural transition from the subject of this 
chapter to that of the next. The reader will here see 



ILLUSION AND PHENOMENA, 365 



how things are constituted of their own states. He 
will find that the Self of any one, the EgOy is only 
the states of the said Self existing at a given moment. 
He will learn that if the Ego imagines itself to be 
something separate from that group of states, it errs, 
since the group of states " constitutes himself at that 
moment,'' since, in fact, "the then state of con- 
sciousness is himself." These phrases, by the way, 
concede that the Ego is a person, a lie. Yet it is not ; 
for it is "at the moment nothing more than the 
composite state of consciousness." With these par- 
ticulars the reader will also have a fair example of Mr. 
Spencer's dilemmas, mere school puzzles ; carrying 
absolutely no force as reasoning; unless, indeed, things 
said by himself at some previous stage, and by himself 
accepted as axioms, are to be so accepted by others. ' 

" Considered as an internal perception, the illusion consists 
in supposing that at each moment the ego is something more 
than the aggregate of feelings and ideas, actual and nascent, 
which then exists. A man who, after being subject to an 
impulse consisting of a group of psychical states, real and 
ideal, performs a certain action, usually asserts that he 
determined to perform the action ; and by speaking of his 
conscious self as having been something separate from the 
group of psychical states constituting the impulse, is led 
into the error of supposing that it was not the impulse alone 
which determined the action. But the entire group of psy- 
chical states which constituted the antecedent of the action, 



1 Prin. of Psychology y Vol. I., p. 500, § 219. 



366 AGNOSTICISM. 



also constituted himself at that moment — constituted his 
psychical self, that is, as distinguished from his physical self. 
It is alike true that he determined the action and that the 
aggregate of his feelings and ideas determined it ; since 
during its existence, this aggregate constituted his then 
state of consciousness, that is, himself. Either the tgo, 
which is supposed to determine or will the action, is present 
in consciousness or it is not. If it is not present in con- 
sciousness, it is something of which we are unconscious- 
something, therefore, of whose existence we neither have 
nor can have any evidence. If it is present in conscious- 
ness, then, as it is ever present, it can be at each moment 
nothing else than the state of consciousness, simple or com- 
pound, passing at that moment It follows inevitably that 
when a certain impression received from without, makes 
nascent certain appropriate motor changes, and various of 
the feelings and ideas which must accompany and follow 
them, and when under the stimulus of this composite 
psychical state, the nascent motor changes pass in \sic) 
actual motor changes ; this composite psychical state which 
excites the action, is at the same time the ego which is said 
to will the action." 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 367 



CHAPTER VI. 

MR. SPENCER ON NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 

I. — No Self-Determining Power, 

The quotation which closed our last chapter makes 
manifest how completely Mr. Spencer is in accord 
with the Positivists on the question of self-determin- 
ing will. He, with them, extends physical law over 
all orders of agents, placing under it alike animated 
and inanimate^ animal and rational ones. Perhaps, 
indeed, his physical legalism is even more mechanical 
than theirs, if one judges by his formal expositions, 
not by incidental passages irreconcilable with them, of 
which by necessity there are many. If nature does 
present as a phenomenon a self-determining power, 
that phenomenon has to be exorcised by metaphysics. 
No animal has a power of self-determination any 
more than its fodder ; and no man has it any more 
than the animal. A body is moved by an impulse, 
and impulse means the shock it receives from the 
striking of another body against it. A mind, as we 
have just seen, is also moved by an impulse ; and the 
one impulse is treated of as if it were as imperative as 



308 AGNOSTICISM, 



the Other, and came as much from without Yet 
there is a curious difference. The impulse whereby a 
body is caused to move comes confessedly from 
another body ; whereas the reader has just learned 
that the impulse whereby a mind is moved is not 
external but internal, and even more — identical with 
it ; is itself. With another writer it might seem 
strange, when the object is to disprove self- 
determined action, that he should assume that the 
impulse which determines the action is the very self 
of the agent. The " impulse " is a group of mental 
states (say psychical, if you find that to make it 
clearer), the " states constituted the agent himself at 
that moment," the " impulse alone determined the 
action " ; therefore, the states or " composite state 
which excites the action is at the same time the ego 
which is said to will the action." This agent, consti- 
tuted of its own states, and becoming, of course, 
another self with every change of state, is the sole 
determining force of any action ; and yet every one of 
its actions is as much conformed to " law " as the 
motions in a body which has no psychical states at all, 
and which for every impulse must wait for the impact 
of another body ; or, like a motor-nerve, for the 
behest of a mind. A material body is at least a per- 
manent substance in which varying states arise and 
pass away, and is at any one moment not merely 
the states " passing at the moment," but the perma- 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 369 

nent something in which all past states arose, and in. 
which all future ones will arise. 

Although states of consciousness are in the 
Agnostic system of such great account that it is 
they which constitute a man, when it comes to 
Conscious- ^^c point, What testimony is borne by 
^^f consciousness on the question whether our 
actions are self-determined or not, Mr. 
Spencer sweeps it and its states away as " illusion/' 
This illusion, he holds, goes so far that consciousness 
represents Self as being something which it is not,, 
something distinct from the " states." Representing 
self as what it is not, it naturally represents will as . 
what it is not ; for an act of volition is a mere illusion, 
and the consciousness which testifies to it as a real 
act is both deceiver and deceived. So far, therefore, 
from an act of volition being a choice of one course 
out of two when it was possible to select either, the 
idea that it is so is merely illusive, and, in fact, the so- 
called act of will is only the ceding of a weaker to a 
stronger force. 

II. — Motives and Motive- Pozver. 

This view annihilates the difference between a 
motive-power and a motive ; assumes their identity. 
Yet there is nothing in nature to which the testimony 
of consciousness is stronger than to this difference, and 
nothing in which its testimony is more easily verified.. 



570 AGNOSTICISMi 



A motive-power conveys an impulse from one body 
by impact against another, which impulse urges the 
body struck to change its place. It appeals to one 
thing, and that alone, namely, to physical resistance, 
consciousness never recognizing in the case any pos- 
sible consideration but the proportion between the 
force and the resistance to be overcome. The idea that 
a ball of an ounce weight may, if it chooses, cither sit 
still or move when struck by one of equal weight 
flying at great speed, never enters human head. 
Consciousness testifies that the case is one of physical 
force pure and simple, and, therefore, one with which 
choice or will has nothing to do. 

But here a difference broadly marked in nature, 
and not unheeded by men of science, is often com- 
pletely ignored by philosophers. That is the dif- 
ference between an inanimate body and an animated 
one when acted upon by some motive-power. Here 
<:onsciousncss is just as plump in its deposition as 
in the other case. The force which would infallibly 
move an inanimate body will not infallibly move an 
animated one of the same weight It may fail 
to stir it ; or, in spite of it, the body may move in 
the direction opposite to it. If there is no motive 
for resisting, the animated body will yield to the 
motive-power which would move an inanimate one 
of equal weight. If there is a motive for resisting, 
the animated body may check the motive-power, 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 371 

may overcome it, and yet no law of mechanics 
is violated. The proper amount of force to overcome 
that of the motive-power being displayed by the 
members of the animated body, and being directed 
not to concur with but to counteract the motive- 
power. Mechanical Science accepts the fact. It is not 
for it to say whence the decision came which fixed the 
direction of the animated force, whence the impulse 
which turned a passive limb into a potent weapon. 
But a decision of will which gave the impulse, adjusted 
its measure, and guided its direction there assuredly 
was — the decision of an agent which mechanics cannot 
reach, any more than falling waters can regain their 
source. 

The amount of force which can be supplied by will 
must be limited in all finite creatures ; and, therefore* 
whenever there is applied to an animated body a 
propulsion adequate in amount, that body will be 
moved in spite of any motives or any resistance. 
But it will not be moved by a propelling force capable 
of moving an equal inanimate weight ; not without 
that {overplus the further amount needed to overcome 
the resistance added by will. 

Having first blurred, in their own minds, the dis- 
tinction between a motive and a motive-power, phil- 
osophers next seek to obliterate it in their systems. 
This they cannot do by any appeal to nature without 
or within, to external phenomena or internal con- 



372 AGNOSTICISM. 



sciousness. Their sole resort is to metaphysical 
arguments. To frame these, as we have noted, Mr. 
Spencer dismisses as an illusion the deposition of con- 
sciousness. He so reasons as virtually to reduce all 
agents to one class, mere physical agents, all relations 
to mere physical relations, all law to mere physical 
modes of procedure. Such things as reasoning and 
resisting agents, as relations involving guilt or good 
desert, as laws that are precepts capable of being either 
obeyed or disobeyed — laws backed not by force but 
by rewards and punishments — do, indeed, at all stages 
of his course make their appearances; because no 
philosopher can keep them out of his discussions. In- 
telligent agents, moral relations, and moral laws are 
the things of which the universe is full, but for many 
systematizers such creatures walk the earth undreamed 
of in their philosophy. They need, to suit their 
generalizations, a world in which no motive should 
ever be urged, no appeal to a choice between two 
possible courses should ever be made ; where only 
motive-power should be brought to bear on clod,, 
beast, and man alike, and where all appeal should be 
simply to physical resistance. 

Now, suppose that instead of the banks of iridesceat 
scientifico-philosophical cloud which hover over Mr^ 
Spencer's speculations, we descend to an experiment^ 
and take a case which would test the question whether 
a motive and a motive-power, whether an appeal to 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 373 



will and an appeal to physical resistance, whether a 
reason for acting and an impulse compelling motion 
are in effect identical. This case shall be simpler than 
the one supposed when we showed that you could not 
judge of a composite whole — man, horse, and gig — 

Donkey ^Y ^^^ lowest member. At present our 
and whole shall be composed of only two 

Donkey members, a donkey and a donkey cart. 
Cart. 'Y\i\s being taken as our "system," can 
you make the system move by a single motive-power? 
Undoubtedly ; you can make the members of it 
move singly or unitedly, if only you employ sufficient 
force ; and that no matter what motives the donkey 
may have for resisting the motive-power. Seeing 
this, we say that the donkey is " nothing but " a body, 
obeying the laws of matter. But pause a moment. 
Can you make the whole system move without 
any motive-power, simply by a motive? That 
depends on which member of it you appeal to. 
Suppose that instead of presenting the two classical 
bundles of hay on the two opposite sides of the donkey, 
you cause them to divide their allurements otherwise, 
one soliciting the donkey and the other the donkey 
cart. Does the cart respond to the motive ? if it is 
already in motion, does it deflect, retard, or accelerate 
that motion, and if it is motionless, does it begin to 
move ? No : its motions are not to be affected by a 
motive. But present the same motive to the donkey, 



374 AGNOSTICISM. 



and you affect his motions. According as he is at 
rest or going in this direction or in that, he originates, 
retards, accelerates, or deflects motion under the sway 
of a motive appealing to his will, when nothing^ 
whatever touches his body as a motive-power. And^ 
mark well, whatever the donkey does, that does also 
the donkey cart ; so that you make both start, stop,, 
or turn by a motive vvithout any motive-power. But 
you cannot do so except as long as the two are 
united ; for no sooner is their union dissolved thar> 
the donkey goes on, leaving the lifeless vehicle 
behind, incapable of motion. 

So far as philosophers recognize a certain com- 
munity between steed and chariot, they are on sure 
Hasty ground ; but when they push that degree 
G:iuraiization of community to oncncss of nature, and 
treat both as agents of one order equally impelled by 
physical force, they exceed the bounds. If, con- 
fessing that the force which induces the animal to 
move is manifestly not physical, but of a different 
order, they yet insist that it must in some way be 
ruled by the same laws as lifeless matter, they in this 
refuse to learn from phenomena, and, discrediting 
them, set up occult metaphysical powers as ruling 
behind them. All the indications of phenomena 
pointing to the conclusion that will is moved by 
power of a different order to that which moves body, 
it is obstinately contended that, notwithstanding all 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 375- 



that, phenomena and consciousness must pass for 
illusions, and we must settle the point on the ground 
of a transcendental knowledge which assures us that 
the same modes of procedure which are established 
for moving bodies avail, mutatis mutandis^ for moving 
wills. In this case the phenomena and the conscious- 
ness are relegated to the protection of "the ordinary 
man," and the extraordinary one, for the time being, 
resorts to his inner light, ready the next moment to* 
scorn all who do any such thing. 

III. — If Law in Thought ^ no Free Will. 

" Psychical changes," writes our author, " either 
conform to law or they do not. If they do not 
conform to law, this work, in common with all works 
on the subject, is sheer nonsense. No science of 
psychology is possible. If they do conform to law,. 
there cannot be any such thing as free will."^ The 
psychical changes here spoken of are not merely 
intellectual acts, but include moral decisions, as well 
as intellectual processes ; and not only so, but also 
the actions springing out of such decisions. And the 
law here spoken of, as quietly as if all men and all 
ages were agreed as to its meaning, is simply physical 
rule, to the express exclusion of law proper ; such 
rule as creates for agents subject to it an absolute 

* Prill, of Psychology. \ 220. 



376 AGNOSTICISM, 



necessity of following a given course, in opposition 
to the method of moral law, the law of liberty, which 
supposes the possibility of two opposite courses on 
the part of agents subject to it Note the following 
language : " The subjective illusion in which the 
notion of free will commonly originates, is strength- 
ened by a corresponding objective illusion. The 
actions of other individuals, lacking as they do that 
uniformity characterizing phenomena of which the 
laws are known, appear to be lawless — appear to be 
under no necessity of following any particular order ; 
and are hence supposed to be determined by the 

independent something called the will 

These effects arc, however, as conformable to law 
as the simplest reflex actions. The irregularity and 
apparent freedom are inevitable results of the com- 
plexity [of causes] ; and equally arise in the inorganic 
world under parallel conditions" ^ [Italics mine]. 

Without dwelling on all the propositions here 
asserted or assumed, we may draw light from the 
central idea. This appears when it is taken for 
granted that being " lawless " means being " under 
no necessity of following any particular order." If all 
actions which do not arise out of a necessity of 
following a particular order are lawless, all mental 
laws and all moral laws are non-existent, because 
mental laws are consistent with a liability of erring, 

1 Prin, of Psychology y § 219. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, ^11 



and moral laws with a liability of transgressing. 
There is, thus, no law of liberty : the only law is that 
of necessity. This is what the common sense of 
mankind has labelled as below the realm of law, in 
the proverb, " Necessity has no law." Where neces- 
sity begins, the reign of law ceases, and that of force 
comes in. Not so for Mr. Spencer ; for him freedom 
is only apparent even where there is irregularity, and 
therefore the irregularity is as much an illusion as 
the freedom. Indeed, such seeming irregularity 
equally arises, he asserts, in the inorganic world when 
the conditions are parallel. A bolder blow in the face 
of facts it would be hard to strike. When are the 
conditions parallel ? They are parallel when in the 
inorganic world a body has been commanded to do a 
certain thing and, understanding the command, leaves 
it undone ; or has been commanded not to do it, 
and yet has done it? Only in such a case would 
the conditions be parallel, and it cannot occur. The 
inorganic world is below the realm of proper law, in 
that, of necessity, wherein neither commands nor pro- 
hibitions are of any effect. In it irregularity " equal " 
to direct transgression of law and manifest derange- 
ment of order is an impossibility ; for the beneficent 
bond of so-called physical law holds inorganic agents 
to a ** necessity of following a particular order," and 
deprives free agents of any power of driving thefti 

from that order. There is no more irregularity in 

C C 



378 AGNOSTICISM. 



complex than in comparatively simple processes, the 
only difference being that in the former we less readily 
trace out the rule ; but, once traced out, it holds as 
uniformly in the most composite body as in more 
simple ones. It is a profitless lesson out of Comte to 
make complexity necessitate irregularity. "An inevit- 
able result of the complexity of" causes is irregularity '. 
That seems to be a simple abnegation of science in 
the interests of philosophy, as understood by certain 
thinkers. In the world of law proper, any agent is 
at once withdrawn from the purview of law when it 
appears that he was under a necessity of following a 
particular course. Law has then for him no verdict 
and no sentence. 

If mental states, cries Mr. Spencer, do not conform 

to law there can be no psychology, and if they do 

there can be no free will. The fact is, they 

MMD ^^ conform to law and they do not conform 

Conform to to it ; somc do and some do not. Both 

Law and horns of the dilemma are blunt. If the 

actions done in England do not conform 

to law, there can be no good citizens ; and if they 

do conform to it, there can be no culprits. Such 

dilemmas can be spun by the hank. 

Psychical states may be intellectual states — acts of 
apprehension, comparison, judgment, inference, calcu- 
lation, and so forth. If they never err, they conform 
to some standard, and it may be by necessity. If 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 379 

sometimes they do not err and sometimes do, they 
still are judged by a given standard ; for no standard, 
no error. But if they sometimes err, then they are not 
necessitated to follow a particular order. Psychical 
states may be feelings, such as love or hatred, joy or 
grief; and if sometimes they are well directed and 
sometimes ill, they manifestly are not necessitated to 
follow a particular order. Psychical states may be 
volitions ; and if they sometimes are right and some- 
times wrong, they again are manifestly not necessi- 
tated to follow a particular order. Error in thought 
and feeling, wrong in action, are facts in nature which 
all the metaphysical puzzles and all the logical 
dilemmas possible will never keep out of sight, even 
though the dilemmas as innocently beg the question 
as do Mr. Spencer's inordinately often. Whether psy- 
chical states be states of the intellect, the emotions, 
or the will, if they always conform to law they never 
err, and if they never conform to it they always err, 
in either of which cases we should have a state of 
things whereof human experience knows nothing. 
But if we suppose the case that they sometimes err 
and sometimes do not, then we find ourselves in the 
field of facts. On this field it is plain that the law 
to which sometimes they conform and from which 
sometimes they depart is not, as a physical law 
always is, a necessity to follow a particular order. 
The case of agents who sometimes conform to law 

c C2 



380 AGNOSTICJSM, 



and sometimes do not is one for which the framework 
of Mr. Spencer's system finds no proper place. 
May not ^^ either does not know or else ignores 
iJheriy be any law setting before an agent two 
courses, leaving him free to take either, 
but commanding him to take one and shun the other, 
and enforcing the command by announcing a penalt>' 
in case of disobedience. Yet, as known in nature, 
this alone is true law : law which issues from a will, 
addresses a will, and is obeyed or violated by a will ; 
law which when obeyed is honoured by a will crown- 
ing the doer of it with reward, and when disobeyed 
is honoured still, the same will imposing a penalty. 
The Comtist assumption that, even in the case of a 
Supreme Ruler, will is the antithesis of law and order, 
seems as if it were one from which Mr. Spencer never 
frees himself. Baseless as that assumption seems 
when formulated, it is as necessary to Agnostic as to 
Positivist dogma. But it does not accord so well with 
Mr. Spencer's social system as with that of Comtc. 
The former pleads for individual liberty, that is, for 
the free play of personal will, pushed to the utmost 
extent, regarding this as the best form of order in 
organized society. This more than admits the fact 
that even individual human wills are not always the 
antithesis of order, and might suggest the related fact 
that the collective will of a community expressed in 
law is aimed at order. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 381 



Both systems begin by begging the question as 

to the coordination of different orders 

. e/' e ermtn- ^j. „gj^^g under different orders of laws. 

tng Power 

Us€if Law, They do not ask whether it is not possible 
that, just as the want of self-determining 
power is order in one class of agents, so may the posses- 
sion of it be order in another class. They do not admit 
to view the fact that as in the world of physics priva- 
tion of freedom to err or to do wrong is order, so in 
the world of morals may the grant of such freedom be 
order. They shut out tracts of nature, by assuming a 
range of dominion much more limited than is hers. 
Liberty to err and to offend may seem altogether 
terrible ; yet, suppose it were possible to attempt such 
a thing, who does not see that to deprive all the people 
in England of liberty to err and to offend would 
involve at the same time depriving them of every 
other liberty ? they must be bereft of voluntary 
motion, and even of life itself; must be reduced 
to the only level on which the so-called laws of 
Positivism and Agnosticism run, that of agents 
incapable of taking two alternative courses, agents 
necessitated to take a particular one, molecules or 
machines. The privation of freedom in physical 
agents involves the necessity of inviolable laws ; and 
the grant of freedom in moral agents involves the 
necessity of laws violable but not alterable. Under 
inviolable law there is no correction or direction 



382 AGNOSTICISM. 



except by means of force struggling with force. 
Under violable law, direction by counsel and cor- 
rection by penalty enter in. These are addressed to 
reason, feeling, and will ; and both of them recog- 
nise self-determining attributes. 

If in the theoretic denial of freedom of the will Mr. 
Spencer is at one with the Positivists and many 
shades of Atheists and Pantheists, no man is further 
from any practical application to human polity of 
such a principle. On the question of individual 
liberty, as contrasted with public control, he is, as 
we have already hinted, not only English, but even 
English exaggerated, just as Comte on the same 
question is French exaggerated. 



IV. — Slight Difference between Voluntary Action and 

Involuntary Movement, 

Another dictum of Mr. Spencer's needs to be 
quoted verbatim : " Between an involuntary movement 
of the leg and a voluntary one, the difference is that, 
whereas the involuntary one occurs without previous 
consciousness of the movement to be made, the 
voluntary one occurs only after it has been repre- 
sented in consciousness ; and as the representation of 
it is nothing else than a weak form of the psychical 
state accompanying the movement, it is nothing else 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 383 



than a nascent excitation of the nerves concerned, 
preceding their actual excitation." ^ 

So, therefore, that which makes the difference be- 
tween the involuntary movement of a villain's leg when 
it is pushed aside by a comrade and its voluntary 
movement when he lifts it and kicks with it till 
he puts his wife to death is — what? Look care- 
fully at Mr. Spencer's words, and do not trust my 
statement or analysis. It is "nothing else than a 
nascent excitation of the nerves concerned." Or it is 
** nothing else than a weak form of the psychical state 
accompanying the movement." That means that the 
difference between an involuntary movement and a 
voluntary action lies in previous consciousness ; and 
this is the only difference ! If so, there is no such 
thing as will ; for to call consciousness by that name 
is not mere absurdity: it is falsification of thought 
and speech. To say that there is no free will is too 
small a conclusion to draw from these prodigious 
premises. But in Mr. Spencer consciousness itself, 
as any one may gather even from the above quotation, 
is scarcely more than some sort of movement in the 
nerves. Nothing else than a nascent excitation of 
the nerves, — that word "nothing else than," with 
its equivalents "only," "no more than," and so forth, 
is a back sluice common in currents of reasoning 
by which great quantities of fallacy escape. The 

1 Prin, of Psychology^ § 218. 



384 AGNOSTICISM. 



metaphysics that reduce the difference between a 
movement which merits neither praise nor blame and 
a calculated action which may merit lifelong honour 
or capital punishment " to nothing else than a nascent 
excitation of nerves, " are a cross between the school 
of medicine and the school of mental philosophy, with 
the defects of both and the virtues of neither. 

It may help us to understand what are the true 

conceptions of will entertained in the Agnostic school 

if we carefully attend to a few utterances of 

The Agftosttc i *• . 

Origin and the master. The first gives us the origin 

Nature. q{ ^^\\\^ ^s also its nature: **We have a 
of Will, rt. , /. . t « 

conflict bet\veen two sets of ideal motor 

changes which severally tend to become real, and 
one of which eventually does become real ; and this 
passing of an ideal motor change into a real one, 
we distinguish as will." ^ The origin, then, of will is 
a conflict between two sets of ideal changes in the 
nerves, which ideas of change get into conflict without 
any will as yet existing to urge them in any direc- 
tion, and out of conflict they generate will. This is 
contrary to nature, in which conflict is generated out 
of will. The origin of will, then, being a conflict 
begun antecedently to volition, the nature of will is 
a "passing." It is not the conflict that is will or the 
effect of will : it arises without will. It is not the 
set of ideas which triumph in the conflict that is 

Prin. of Psychology^ § 218. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 385. 

distinguished as will : it is "this passing of an ideal 
motor change into a real one." Yet if you sit with 
the reins in your hand till all your friends have taken 
their places, it requires an act of will to keep the 
intention of moving from turning into actual 
movement ; and j^'our will must restrain that of the 
horses. When all is ready, it requires another act of 
will to determine that the restraint shall cease and the 
movement begin, and that act of will it is which 
causes the passing from ideal to real motion, not 
" this passing" that generates the will. And if the will 
of the horses does not concur with yours, there will 
arise a conflict, which can be explained, because it is 
a conflict of wills, a thing well known to nature. But a 
conflict which begins before will is in being, and 
brings forth will, is a shadow-fight of overtaxed 
imagination. 

A phrase only a few sentences earlier would seem 
to postpone the generation of will till after the con- 
flict without will has given birth to action without 
will. We are told that when nascent motor 
changes are prevented from passing into action by 
the antagonism of other nascent motor changes,. 
" there is constituted a state of consciousness which,. 
when it finally issues in action, displays what we term 
volition." Wfien it issues in action ! The causal^ 
the legislative act of will is taken an hour, a day, a 
week before the moment of action, and the executive 



386 AGNOSTICISM. 



act of will must Still precede action, not wait for it, 
-even though it precedes it immediately. And let it 
be noted that as in the other passage conflict was 
made antecedent to will, so here is "antagonism" 
made antecedent to it. 

The history of the origin of will is varied in the 
following description : " Will comes into existence 
through the increasing complexity and imperfect 
"Coherence of automatic action."^ First, action; 
secondly, complexity of action ; thirdly, increasing 
'Complexity of action ; fourthly, imperfect coherence 
of action ; fifthly, bringing into existence of the 
offspring of all these — ^Will. This being the manner 
in which Will began to be, the next sentence tells us 
in what manner it goes out of action : "Just as any 
set of psychical changes originally displaying Memor>', 
Reason, and Feeling cease to be conscious, rational 
-and emotional, as fast as by repetition they grow 
closely organized ; so do they at the same time pass 
beyond the sphere of volition." This means that 
when a process which at first called for conscious 
efforts of memory and reason, as well as excited 
feeling — a process such as adding up three columns of 
figures or as playing an elaborate piece of music- 
becomes familiar and ceases to call for 'efforts of 
memory and reason, or to excite feeling, it at the same 
time passes beyond the splure of volition. This is not 



1 Prin. of Psychology^ § ai8. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 387 

merely incorrect ; it is conspicuously opposite to what 
occurs in nature. In the performance of familiar 
acts, such as we have instanced, it is the will that 
most prominently operates, so prominently that the 
part of memory, reason, and feeling seems almost too 
minute for sight. The will in such cases commands 
the act, and for its performance commands the ser- 
vices of memory and reason, and that with a mastery 
so established that they not only obey, but, like 
good servants, work without making any noise. This 
<iouble failure in showing how will comes into 
existence and how it goes out of action raises a fear 
that Mr. Spencer may not have been at his best for 
observation at that special moment in the history of 
•evolution when Will first did come into existence. 
This fear is not allayed when, on reading that Will is 
generated by increasing complexity of automatic 
changes, we turn back a page and there read that 
^' the cessation of automatic action and the dawn of 
volition are one and the same thing." ! ! 

V. — Agnostic View of what is Freedom of Will. 

Being now in possession of the Agnostic view of 
the origin of Will, of its nature, and of how it ceases 
to operate, we may ask, What on the same system is 
the Freedom of the Will, or, rather, what would be 
the freedom of the will, did any such thing exist? 



388 AGNOSTICISM, 



The answer is, happily, plain. According to Mr, 
Spencer, freedom of will would exist if every one were 
at liberty to desire or not to desire. In " the dogma 
of free will," he supposes that the real proposition 
affirmed is that every one is at liberty to desire or 
not. He thinks that this is negatived by "the analysis 
of consciousness " ; and says all admit that every one 
is at liberty to do what he desires to do ; while it is 
" people of confused ideas " who suppose that the 
necessitarians or determinists deny this, whereas what 
they deny is the assertion that Every one is at liberty 
to desire or not to desire. 

Lest people of confused ideas should suppose that 
I must be trifling in ascribing to Mr. Spencer such 
representations of what he has to combat, his own 
words must be given : " That every one is at liberty 
to do what he desires to do (supposing there are no 
external hindrances) all admit; though people of con- 
fused ideas commonly suppose this to be the thing 
denied. But that every one is at liberty to desire 
or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved 
in the dogma of free will, is negatived as much by the 
analysis of consciousness, as by the contents of the 
preceding chapters." ^ 

I should not have believed that any one of ordinary 
acquaintance with men and thought would suppose 
that they who believe that man is a free agent 

* Prin, of Psychohgy-t § 219. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 389 



affirm that every one is at liberty not to desire. But Mr. 
, ,. , Herbert Spencer soberly believes that the 

Is rreedom *^ ^ 

of Will real proposition involved in the doctrine 
Libtriy not ^f fj.^^ ^ju jg ^j^^t Every . one is at liberty 

to Desire? , , . » . t i i i r 

to desire or 7iot to desire. I have heard free 
will discussed as between Christian and Christian, as 
between Christian and Hindu, as between Christian 
and philosophic unbelievers, call them necessitarians, 
determinists, or whatever pleases you ; but never 
have I heard any one state as his conception of free 
will that it means liberty to desire or not to desire. 
Just as soon talk of liberty not to breathe or not to 
digest as of liberty not to desire. That would mean 
being at liberty not to wish for food, drink, sleep, or 
rest ; at liberty not to desire to see, hear, taste, or 
feel ; at liberty not to desire to know and to com- 
municate; at liberty not to long for happiness or 
the society of mankind ! 

Certain desires arid certain measures of them are 
antecedent to any concurrence of the will, as much 
so as are bones and nerves, the one being elements of 
the mental constitution as essential to it as are the 
others to the bodily one. For the mental agent 
desire, hope, and fear are the anticipatory forces 
which through the fleeting present link the lost past 
with the undiscovered future. As among physical 
agents gravitation links distant to distant, and heat 
causes circulation, so among mental agents desire 



890 AGNOSTICISM. 



insures action and communication. Wider of the 
point at issue one could scarcely rove than a writer 
who imagines that in opposing belief in the freedom 
of the will he has to confute the fancy that men are 
free not to desire. And let it be marked that Mr. 
Spencer does not at all qualify the general term, but 
leaves it in all its latitude as meaning liberty to be 
destitute of any desire whatever. 

" That every one is at liberty to do what he desires 
to do all admit." That admission raises a presump- 
tion, but only a presumption. If the last mental stage 
between desire and act is free, is it not more probable 
that preceding stages are also free than that they are 
necessitated? In addition to raising this presump- 
tion, there is one point which the admission settles^ 
namely, that something is free ; and that something 
is the important step between desire and action^ 
which being free, it follows that freedom is not a 
mere "illusion," but that, on the contrary, it is a 
reality. This confessed, freedom occupies a position 
of primary importance ; for its place is such that the 
effects of any preceding mental action all depend on 
the critical stage between desire and deed. It is 
just at that stage that will finds its place. If freedom 
presides over this middle passage, and yet does not 
mean self-determining power, what does it mean ? 

The true test of freedom, however, lies not merely 
in freedom to do what one desires, but still more in 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 391 

freedom not to do what we desire ; with freedom to- 
do what we do not desire ; what, in fact. 
To Dowhat ^^ should give much not to have to do. 
Tve Dcsirt, Do all admit that we have that freedom Y 

If they admit that man is both at 
liberty to do and to leave undone what he desires,. 
and at liberty to do what he does not desire, the con- 
troversy is ended. Those who, admitting that we 
are free to do what we desire, deny that we are free 
to leave undone what we desire, and to do what we do 
not desire, make desire tantamount to will. This is 
what Mr. Spencer's positions lead to, although it is 
not with desire that in his exposition of principles he 
identifies will, but with that amorphous somewhat 
which he calls consciousness, or that equally un- 
accountable somewhat which he calls passing into 
action. 

" Psychical changes either conform to law or they 
do not." Since desires are psychical changes, they 
either conform to law or do not. If they all do, every 
one of them is right, and each is altogether right. In 
this case for us not to conform to them would be to 
strive against law. Then the most law-abiding man 
on earth is he who never set his will to restrain a 
desire. On the other hand, if they do not con- 
form to law, the conclusion is, not that there is 
no science, but that science honestly so called 
will now have to note the fact that something has 



■392 AGNOSTICISM. 



arisen in contravention of law ; and from this fact of 
science will Reason be constrained to infer that free- 
dom to break law must exist somewhere, and must 
form part of universal order. 

Here, then, with due submission to the Agnostics, 

is the point at issue in the doctrine of free will — 

namely, Does there or does there not exist 

Have We , ^* ,,,,,. 

or not the m any agent a power to break law ? We 
Power to must admit that, to one whose range of 
view is that of the physical legalist, science 
becomes impossible so soon as things cease to be by 
necessity conformed to law ; because we cannot then 
have certain foresight of the course things will take. 
Notwithstanding this, criminal law is a science as truly 
as the laws of crystallization, and one of far greater 
breadth and depth, with far more exercise for the 
observation, the judgment, and the reason. But in 
the lips of a physical legalist the noble phrase, 
"•* conformed to law," has no reference to conforming 
or refusing to conform ; it is pure metaphor, and only 
means following on in a fixed, inevitable order by an 
invariable physical rule. 

What would Mr. Spencer say as to the use made of 
freedom in the domain where he admits of its 
<ixistence? Is it, in the stage between desire and 
action, always used conformably to law or not ? If 
it is, in what does it differ from necessity ? If it is 
not, then law is broken. Now, according to the 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 393 

hypothesis, when law becomes violable, science be- 
comes impossible. Yet, in truth, the only science 
which then becomes impossible is that of agents that 
can neither break nor keep a law, that of inanimate 
agents who simply move as they are moved upon. 
That is a science of physical certainties ; but there is 
other science than that, because there are other 
agents, agents capable of deviating in mental 
processes from the law of the process, and agents 
capable of opposing in moral action the law of the 
action. This world of wider science, taking all 
physical certainties as a basis, has to do with intel- 
lectual acts, now free from error, now erroneous, and 
with moral acts, now lawful, now unlawful ; and has, 
therefore, for its guiding light a higher law. 

Mr. Spencer, fully aware that physical law works 
itself out to an unfailing result, is clear that desires 
are psychical states, find as such conform to law. We 

have already pointed out that if a de- 

Dtsire be sire being conformed to law is overridden, 

^^^' law itself is contravened. Yet if any one 

fact in nature is certain, certain it is that 

sometimes desires are overridden, and equally certain 

that sometimes they ought to be overridden. On 

Mr. Spencer's theory, the act which contravenes law 

is that which checks desire ; on our theory, such an 

act may be the one which arrests a breach of law. 

But the essentia] point at this moment is that on 

D D 



894 AGNOSTICISM. 



either theory a breach of law is involved. Now even 
one breach of law carries you beyond the bounds 
of physical rule. You emerge from under the 
stream of necessity, and swim with head above it, in 
the atmosphere of freedom. And there is a law of 
liberty for moral agents, as there is one of necessity 
for physical agents. This law contemplates diversity 
of quality in actions, some being anticipated as law- 
keeping and some as law-breaking; and for each 
kind respectively it provides a discriminating meed. 
Under law proper, all courses are not of equal merit, 
as they must be if every one of them originates with 
equal birthright of eternal necessity. When equality 
exists, as it does among the motions of inanimate 
bodies, penalties or rewards do not exist Where 
diversity of quality as between good and bad begins, 
there begin penalties and rewards. There are certain 
lines of action to the train of which nature attaches 
woes and torments, and she is defamed when these 
are reckoned as among the regular lines of her ordina- 
tions. Where all is conformed to law, none suffer 
and order is never disturbed ; but where law is some- 
times violated, order is disturbed, the aggrieved suffer, 
and penalties to the transgressor ensue. 

VI. — Will Checking Desire and Initiating New Habits. 

If men were not free to resist desires and override 
them, the prospect before the race would be gloomy. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 396 

While freedom not to desire, in the absolute sense, is 

absurd, freedom to check desires, so as in time to 

quench them, is one of the noblest grants in our 

charter of liberties. He that with unchecked desire 

eats and drinks, likes or dislikes, becomes a wretch, 

and makes others wretched. He who checks wrong 

desires, and checks wrong measures of lawful desires, 

becomes in time so far the master of them that what 

once he could not resist he at length scarcely feels 

as of power to wrestle with him. Though all desires 

solicit will, with more or less potency, no desire is so 

imperious as not to yield to its sovereignty when 

asserted. Strong as is the desire to breathe, a Hindu 

devotee will overcome it by sheer strength of will, till 

from holding his breath he dies. Strong as is the 

desire to eat, a Hindu of high caste will check it, and 

in some cases will do so even to death, rather than 

break his caste. Stranger still, he will sometimes 

override this imperious physical desire, to gratify the 

purely mental one of revenge, by sitting at the door 

of an enemy till death results from starvation, and 

leaves him with a corpse on his hands. 

Habit is recognised as of real power among men of 

all schools ; yet none deny that cases occur in which 

old habits are broken and new ones formed, notably 

where a question of strong desire is involved. Now, 

what originates the new habit? Clearly an act of 

will interposing between a dominant desire and the 

DD2 



896 AGNOSTICISM, 



gratification of It which previously was habitual. 
What interposes a second time, and so further 
weakens the links of association ? a second act of 
will ; and so on till successive acts of will break the 
old habit and lead in the new, till eventually desire 
becomes so amenable that the act of will is performed 
almost unconsciously. At this stage Mr. Spencer 
would hold that volition had ceased, for he says of the 
adult walker that " his successive steps are made with 
no more volition than his successive inspirations." 
The successive steps would at once cease if the 
volition to continue walking ceased ; whereas the suc- 
cessive inspirations would not cease without a real 
effort, even if the man wished to hold his breath. 
Volition had no share in originating the inspirations, 
and their continuance is independent of it ; but it is 
necessary if they are to be interrupted. As to the 
steps, on the contrary, volition originates them, and 
when it ends they end. The silence with which 
memory and reason work under will during the act of 
walking is no proof that will has ceased, or yet its 
instruments, but that these are perfectly docile. None 
of them disappear in such a walk, though Mr. Spencer 
thinks that they all do. ^ 

We must remember the fact of men usually as- 
serting that they determined to perform a certain 

1 Prin. of Psychology^ § 218. " Memory, Reason, Feeling, and Will 
simultaneously disappear in proportion as psychical changes become 
automatic." The case of walking is the illustration. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 397 

action is treated as the "current illusion," and yet, 

illusion as it is, Mr. Spencer more than once calls it 

Appearances natural. He assumes as a fact which 

Deceive must govem Others that no man does or 

\ichen 

they ^^" determine his own action, and that 
MofU/est his freedom to do so is merely apparent. 
This apparent but unreal freedom he 
illustrates by the case of a body moving among " a 
number of bodies of all sizes and at all distances," 
which seems to move freely, while in reality it is 
being influenced by the attraction of them all. Hence 
he infers that our apparently self-determined actions 
are "as conformable to law as the simplest reflex 
actions " : that is, if we determine to sacrifice our ease 
to save another from trouble, it is an action as much 
necessitated by physical law as when a muscle 
contracts on being pressed. 

Unfortunately, however, for Mr. Spencer's illustra- 
tion, he made his body move among so many others, 
various in mass and distance, that the attraction on 
one side would be nearly balanced by that on other 
sides, and, therefore, the motion of the body on the 
whole would be little aflected. But a greater flaw 
than even this in the illustration is when he makes 
the body a moving one, which is in effect a self- 
determined one ; for every moving body carries within 
itself a determination in a given direction, as well as 
a given velocity. Let him set a «^»-moving mass 



398 AGNOSTICISM. 



among the same number of bodies of all sizes and 
at all distances, and see if it will go forward " in 
some line that appears to be self-determined." It will 
do no such thing. It has had no self-determining 
momentum imparted to it, it could evolve none, and 
it simply obeys the strongest force by sitting still. 

But when a body launched amid other bodies is 
already possessed with a momentum which was not 
developed in it but imparted to it, then, indeed, it 
holds 6n its own way, though pulled hither by one 
and pulled thither by another, and in some measure 
influenced by all. So is it with the soul of man 
amid the manifold solicitations of conflicting motives. 
They may modify his course, but that course is self- 
determined ; for what is within him is far more than 
all that attracts him from without. In him self- 
determining power is not lawless, any more than is 
momentum in a missile. It is the law of his nature 
that he must choose between one course and another, 
must choose between the evil and the good ; a law 
entailing upon him rich estate of possibilities ; a law 
reserving for him solemn sessions of account. 

Our desires necessitated ; nothing between desire 
and act ; and the difference between an involuntary 
and a voluntary deed " nothing else than a nascent 
excitation of the nerves " ! That is not what we find 
in nature. Certain desires are necessitated, but others 
rise or subside at the command of the will. And 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 399 

there is no desire of which the degree is not under its 
control, in so far that the will holds the decision 
between action and no action. 

VI I. — Conscience^ Taste, Judgment, tlie Censors of 

Desire, 

Between desire and act come Judgment, Taste, and 
Conscience. I here speak of volition as act, since it is 
the completed act of the soul — the legislative act ; all 
that remains being only executive. The desire may 
spring from bodily appetite or may be purely mental ; 
but the act to which it points must pass the ordeal of 
Judgment, and be pronounced wise or unwise, profit- 
able or injurious. It must pass the ordeal of Taste, 
and be pronounced comely or uncomely. It must 
pass the ordeal of Conscience, and be pronounced 
right or wrong. When Judgment condemns an action 
as injurious, Taste as uncomely, and Conscience as 
wrong, the desire to do it is rebuked and consequently 
enfeebled ; for it is confronted by Wisdom, Beauty, 
and Justice. Where these all approve the action as 
wise, lovely, and good, the desire to do it is rein- 
forced. Will, siding with desire, may determine 
against all the three censors ; or, siding with them, it 
may determine against the desire. 

Not only is will mighty over present states of mind, 
but one of the marvels of its power is the anticipa- 



400 AGNOSTICISM. 



tory control it exerts over states of mind as yet 
Prospective ^^^^^^y whether those states be intellectual 
Poiver or emotional An act of will resolutely 
^ ' ' determining to perform a certain thing, at 
a future time, tends to call into play recollections, 
imaginations, calculations, desires auxiliary to the 
proposed action, and tends at the same time to check 
or even to preclude such as would be adverse to it. 
Such an act of will may also, as all familiarly know, 
considerably affect the bodily frame. In the matter 
of sleep, a strong determination to awake at a given 
hour has a tendency to bring about the act at that 
very hour. In certain men the power to take the 
decision and to carry it into effect can be habitually 
relied upon. Here is will acting in concert with time, 
pre-adjusting and measuring it by means of some 
occult concord established beforehand. Of this con- 
cord we certainly give no account by the pretty 
phrase, Unconscious Cerebration; for were the cerebra- 
tion more than unconscious — fully conscious, were one 
wide awake all the time, how would a decision taken 
in the light enable one to measure time in the dark, 
enable one after keeping still up to the right moment 
to get up when it came and act ? Now, in the case of 
the sleeping man, not only is he in the dark, but 
the action of his senses is in suspension ; yet at the 
end of the allotted time all his nature wakes up, 
bearing witness to the prospective power of will 



NECESSJ7 Y AND FREE WILL. 401 

in a volition adopted perhaps six hours previously, 
and now punctually obeyed. 

Were it true that nothing interposed between 
desire and action , or that desire is tantamount to 
will, man would be the lowest animal in the herd. 
That terrible anomaly of his nature which has been 
forcibly pointed out by the Duke of Argyll, where- 
by he is prone to acts noxious to himself and his 
race, comes fully into evidence only when, con- 
science being unenlightened, the will is feeble for 
good, easily swayed by desire, and consequently 
mighty for evil. Did a real belief that desires were 
necessitated developments and actions their orderly 
complement generally possess mankind for a number 
of generations, the race that would thereafter exist 
would not be a race of brutes — for brutes are no such 
creatures — but would be a race of demons incarnate. 

In all ages and nations, though philosophers have 
sought to persuade mankind that they were not free 
agents, the conclusion that we do not really deter- 
mine our own actions has been repelled as bad by 
the common conscience, and scorned as trifling by 
the common understanding. The light that is in 

Shakespeare every man flashes out upon the mist in the 
f* . words of Shakespeare : " We make guilty 

Thrusting^ of our disasters the sun, the moon, and 
^^' stars ; as if we were villains on neces- 
sity, fools by heavenly compulsion ; knaves, thieves. 



402 AGNOSTICISM. 



and treachers by spherical predominance ; drunkards, 
liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of 
planetary influence ; and all that we are evil in, by 
a divine thrusting on."> It is in man, and cannot be 
conjured out of him, that whatever is done ** by a 
divine thrusting on" is well done, and that whatever 
is wrong has not been done by a divine thrusting on. 
Still stronger reason declares that any one action 
done by the All-Being, the sole Reality, the sole 
Power, manifesting itself within us and without, must 
be equally good with any other action done by that 
same Power. As, on the Agnostic principle, every 
action whatever is a manifestation of this ever iden- 
tical Power, not thrusting lower natures on, but being 
itself the sole life and actor, the idea of imputing 
blame to one action more than to another is irrational. 
On such a supposition it is trifling to distinguish 
one as right and another as wrong. On such a 
supposition justice is of all fictions the most absurd, 
and punishment of all iniquities the most monstrous. 
In the Vedic hymn the devotees cry : " It was not 
our doing, O Varuna ! it was necessity. An intoxi- 
cating draught, passion, vice, thoughtlessness, even 
sleep brings unrighteousness."^ Not our doing, but 
necessity ! This in reason ought to put an end to all 
idea of "unrighteousness." But, no! Reason and 
conscience repel such anodynes ; it is our doing, and 

* King Lear. 2 Quoted in Mullens's Hindu Philosophy, p. 20. 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 403 

sin is "unrighteousness," and man feels within himself 
a just judgment against his evil deed. 

The remark of Mr. Spencer on the scepticism of 
Hume, who makes mind a sum total of impressions 
and ideas, is this : " An impression necessarily implies 
states something impressed."^ Now, if this simple 
Presuppose observation suffices to show how crude was 
the notion of Hume, what is to be said of 
Mr. Spencer s notion which makes man at any given 
moment only an aggregate of passing states, and 
makes the states and not the man determine action ; 
or, more properly, makes these states, and therefore 
all that stands instead of a man, do it ? We can only 
say that a state necessarily implies something of 
which it is a state. It is not more clearly dreaming 
by way of thinking to speak of an impression which is 
not an impression on anything, than to speak of a 
state which is not a state of anything. To form any 
real idea of what we mean by an impression, we must 
know what makes the impression, or what it is an 
impression of; what receives the impression, or what 
it is an impression on ; and how it is transmitted from 
the thing impressing to the thing impressed. And, in 
like manner, to form a real idea of what we mean by 
a state, we must know what it is a state of and what 
state it \s, 

" How can the sceptic," proceeds Mr. Spencer, 

First Prin,^ \ 20. 



404 AGNOSTICISM, 



** who has decomposed his consciousness into impres- 
sions and ideas explain the fact that he considers 
them as his impressions and ideas?" So we ask, 
How can the Agnostic who decomposes man into 
passing states of consciousness explain the fact that 
he considers them as his states of consciousness? 
They determine his actions, yet he calls them his past 
states, his present states, his nascent states, his pass- 
ing states, his ideal states, his real states, his states 
which constitute himself ! At any given moment the 
state of any mind is the state of a real being ; of the 
same being whose past state was another, whose 
future state will be another still ; of the same being in 
whom have had their existence all the successive 
states from his birth forwards. This being can be no 
more constituted of his own states than can the 
Thames be constituted of its fluctuations. Taken at 
any particular moment, the same being who has origin- 
ated many past states, and experienced many, partly 
remembers them and partly forgets them ; but he is 
prepared to originate others and to experience others; 
and as he bears in him the effects of tlie past, so does 
he bear in him that which will tinge the future. To 
say that he is nothing but the aggregate of his states 
at that particular moment, is to invert the facts. 
What his states at that particular moment may be is 
determined by what he has been, is, and intends to 
be. I do not know how many readers of Dr. Bain's 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 405 



great work on the Senses and the Intellect spent much 
time after reading the first sentence in an attempt to 
discover how one could constitute a thing, mind or 
body, of its own operations and appearances, which 
are part of its states. " The operations and appear- 
ances that constitute mind," is the marvellous 
of>ening. Ever since I spent a good deal of time 
over it on first reading it, the pleasant image of 
Dr. Bain has always risen before me as that of 
the gentleman who is constituted of his own opera- 
tions and appearances. 

The habit prevails with many writers of professing 

to constitute a given thing out of elements which 

^ . ., cannot originate till after the existence of 

Things Not ^ 

Constitutid the thing they are to constitute, and can 
of Their originate only out of that existence. 

Ottm StcUes. 

Whether it be an operation, an appearance, 
a change, or a state, they all suppose the pre-existence 
of the thing operating, appearing, changing, or being in 
a state, which means existing somehow. How can you 
have a state of anything before you first have the 
thing itself? Can you have the state of the army 
among the Quakers, or the state of shipping in the 
Midlands? Constitute the thing, and the states of 
it will follow, and will constitute its changes. But 
if you wait till a thing which exists not is constituted 
out of its own states, you will wait long. And the 
idea that a man does not choose, does not truly 



406 AGNOSTICISM. 



will, does not determine his conduct, because the 

said man is really nothing but a group of states, is 

one that will not content many who pause over 

what they are taught. 

Take any ten men in a given state of mind, say, 

wishing to emigrate to America. That wish shapes 

all their actions bearing on the future, and is about to 

shape their future. You, we shall suppose, 
How to ^ \ , ^r ^ 

Change seek to change the state of mmd, and make 
States of them wish to emigrate to Siberia. How are 

Mind, .... . , 

you to set about it — by using motives or by 
using motive-power ? If all you sought to do was to 
control the state of their bodies, you might be content 
with motive-power, and carry them away, willing or 
unwilling, as many have been carried, to Siberia 
But, perhaps, the effect of that proceeding would not 
be to change them from the former state of mind, but 
to confirm them in it ; so that the wish to emigrate to 
America, instead of being broken by your use of force, 
would be made stronger. If you mean to change 
the state of mind, so that the men instead of having 
to be carried by force to Siberia shall have a wish 
which will carry themselves and their appurtenances 
thither, you will address mind not by motive-power 
but by motive. You will approach desire through the 
judgment, pointing out advantages ; or through the 
taste, pointing out beauties and pleasures ; or through 
the conscience, pointing out duties and missions of 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 407 

beneficence. If acting through these channels you 
arouse an ambition, a hope, a thirst to do good, or an 
enthusiasm of either animosity or benevolence, you 
may carry their wills, and they will carry your men. 
But if not, you perfectly know that when will is not 
won by reason, by imagination, or by conscience, it 
cannot be won by force. So, failing to carry your 
point by any efficacy of motives, you will only 
recognize the futility of motive-power. It is for 
machines, not for will. 

VIII. — Agnosticism Divests Man of any Proper 
Intelligence ^ Willy or Personality, 

As Positivism, beginning by declaring God a fic- 
tion, ends by making every man individually an 
abstraction, and by leaving him without rights ; 
so Agnosticism, beginning by denying to God 
personality, intelligence, or will, ends by denying to 
man anything meriting the name of personality, 
of intelligence, or of will. For it will scarcely be 
contended that a set of illusive notions about 
ourselves and external nature can be called intel- 
ligence, or that a faculty of moving as the strongest 
forces push can be called will. And a mere 
group of states which are all illusions, of motions 
which are only changes under force, is not to be 
called a person : it is a fancy existence outlined on a 



408 AGNOSTICISM. 

level much below that of personality. In such a 
scheme all rational ground for a distinction between 
good actions and bad ones is destroyed. An una- 
voidable movement does not merit either praise or 
blame. A seeming act of judgment which is only 
an illusion caused by an irresistible Power cannot be 
either wise or foolish. A seeming act of choice, which 
is no more an act of will than is the bending of a 
stream to right or left, according to the line of least 
resistance, is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy. 
On this scheme all actions — call them fatal, destined, 
necessitated, or determined — are only such as could 
not have been other than they are. They are not 
even predestinated ; for if the absolute Predestination 
of Paganism or Mohammedanism does render man a 
mere instrument and not an agent, it leaves him still 
the instrument of an Intelligent Being whose design and 
will he performs. But the universe of Agnosticism has 
not even the one free agent at its head, not even the 
one intelligent mind possessing real knowledge, not 
even the one will determining events. Man is a 
molecule in a mass; and such nobler attributes as 
have been ascribed to him are born of some strange 
tendency to illude and be illuded inherent in the 
mass and evolved in him. 

On such a system any personality worthy of the 
name is lost ; and, in a natural recoil from its own 
quenching, the soul turns back to rekindle itself at 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL. 409 

the twin flames of nature and revelation. Nature 
by the testimony of consciousness^ and by that of 
struggle, disaster, and triumph, ever reminds man that, 
while his arena and his powers are given to him, his 
lot is coloured by his choice, to which he must trace 
up the effects that follow for weal or woe. All our 
experiences of nature enforce the lesson that whatever 
wins over man's will commands his action ; and that 
on him it devolves to watch the ways of judgment, 
taste, and conscience which lead into the citadel of 
the will. In none of these experiences does motive- 
power appear as the force which appeals to will, any 
more than motives appear as the force which appeals 
to machines. The motives plead ; the power pushes. 
The motives address reason, feeling, conscience ; the 
power addresses weight and bulk. If Professors who 
compare men to the governors of steam-engines would 
show us governors with which they can reason, which 
they can move by argument ; to which they can 
appeal, crying that Fire, Water, and Iron expect every 
governor to do its duty ; which can be moved by a 
sense of duty, we should stand amid events hitherto 
undreamed of. If they will make no attempt thus 
to prove the similarity they assert, let them forgive 
the flash of ridicule in the eyes of those whom they 
cannot dazzle. 

The testimony of nature to the reality and power of 
will is reinforced by Revelation, which always makes 

£ E 



410 AGNOSTICISM. 



its appeal to a soul capable of estimating profit. 
RiViUuion beauty, and right, and of being moved by 
Recognizes them : moved by attraction to seek what is 

and 

Dignifies good» and lovely, and just ; moved by repul- 
^iil'\ sion to shun what is hurtful, unlovely, and 
undutiful. Revelation, ever addressing man as one 
indebted to the goodness of God for every power and 
every opportunity, yet addresses him as a portentous 
being to whom is permitted the liberty of misusing 
his powers and of squandering his opportunities- 
ay, and the still more awful liberty of injuring and 
tempting others. But liberty is not so permitted that 
he shall after so doing fare as if he had dutifully 
cultivated opportunities ; as if he had benefited others 
and built them up in good. Revelation does not 
approach him with force, but with motives, appeals to 
feeling, reason, conscience. " Come now and let us 
reason together," is the language of Almighty power 
addressing finite but responsible power. Revelation 
sets before the soul, as before a judge, in open con- 
trast, the beauty of righteousness and the blessedness 
of salvation on the one hand, and on the other 
hand the horrors of iniquity and the suflTering of 
fearful punishment. In sight of these it calls on man 
to choose — to choose life and not death, to choose 
a blessing and not a curse, to choose the upward 
way, though narrow, and not the downward way. 
though broad. It is not for man to choose to what 



NECESSITY AND FREE WILL, 411 

manner of person shall be given the life, the blessing, 
and the heritage to which the upward way leads. 
That is settled by unalterable law eternal. It is for 
man to say whether he will bow to that law or rebel ; 
but not to say that in rebelling against moral law he 
is really yielding to a deeper law of invincible 
necessity. 

When necessity to run the race of evil seems 
fastening upon man, because all the response of 
his soul to the call of God is too feeble to carry 
him over the current of habit and desire ; when he 
finds that sincere choice to serve his Maker does not 
prove operative in holy actions ; when he finds that, 
though his will is free from above, not *' thrust on '* in 
the evil course by power of God, nor dragged on in it 
by the revolving system of the universe, nevertheless, 
it is fettered from below, carnal, sold, in bondage to 
sin, so that doing the deed he hates, and failing to 
keep the law to which judgment and conscience as- 
sent as holy, just, and good, he feels that practically 
he is not a free agent, but a forced servant of a ter- 
rible captor ;^-when, finding all this, he is ready to lie 
down like a corpse and let the cold current roll over 
him and roll him on with it, then does Revelation set 
before him the Maker as a Saviour who redeems the 
bondsman, who breathes into him of His own free 
spirit, renews his will, strikes off the shackles of flesh 

and habit; makes him again a Man capable of 

£ £ 2 



412 AGNOSTICISM. 



choosing the good and refusing the evil; choosing 
no longer with an inoperative though sincere reso- 
lution, but with a might — the Spirit's might in the 
inner man — before which old desires and habits give 
way. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 413 



CHAPTER VII. 

MR. spencer's view OF THE ORIGIN OF THE 

UNIVERSE. 

I. — Three Possible Theories. 

According to Mr. Spencer, the theories we may 
form of the origin of the universe are three : " We 
may assert that it is self-existent ; or that it is self- 
created ; or that it is created by an external agency."^ 
The theory of its self-existence he holds to be that of 
the Atheist ; the theory of self-creation he takes for 
that of the Pantheist; and the theory of creation 
by an external agency he takes for that of the 
TheisL 

He does not enquire which of these suppositions is 
the most credible ; but only whether any one of them 
is conceivable in the true sense of the word. As we 
already know, his sense of the word is one in which 
conception seems to be confounded with compre- 
hension, and comprehension seems to be confounded 
with power of mentally picturing every detail of 
the object He undertakes to show that no one of 

^ First Pnn.y §11. 



414 AGNOSTICISM. 



the three suppositions is conceivable in the true sense 
of the word. 

Treating of the Atheist theory, he naturally 

assumes that an assertion of self-existence involves 

a denial of creation. Two of his alternative phrases 

for uncreated are, " not produced by any 

'PJ^^ other," and "independent of any other." 
Now, it is obvious at first sight that nothing 
could be self-existent if produced by another, for that 
is being created ; nor yet if dependent on another, 
for that is being preserved. As, therefore, the Atheist 
asserts that the universe was not produced by a living 
God, or by anything else, he holds not only that 
it is without any head and any government, but 
also that, " In excluding the idea of any ante- 
cedent cause, we necessarily exclude the idea of a 
beginning." 

This position of the Atheists Mr. Spencer meets 

by asserting that we cannot form a conception of 

existence without a beginning ; and, for this curious 

reason, that it would be conceiving "existence 

His 

^ ^ through infinite past time," which would imply 
" the conception of infinite past time, which 
IS an impossibility." An impossibility it would 
clearly be, did conception Jure mean giving to a 
thing an existence in our minds preparatory to giving 
it an external existence. That is the ordinary sense 
of conceiving a thing, be it a poem or an inven- 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 415 

tion. But it is not the sense here. All that is meant 
is that you cannot form a conception of infinite 
past time such as you do of Paradise Lost, although 
that is a widely different thing from Milton's con- 
ception of it ere it began to be. Your conception 
is merely apprehension ; his was generation. Yours 
takes cognizance of what has been made ; his gave 
existence to what had never before existed — 
gave existence, first in his spirit, later in embodied 
form. Now, in Mr. Spencer's peculiar sense, we 
are clearly unable to form a conception of in- 
finite past time, because to see before the mind's 
eye the top, the sides, and the under surface of it, 
or any equivalents of these, is not practicable. 
No more is it practicable in respect of finite 
past time. 

This is Mr. Spencer's main reply to the theory of 
a self-existent universe, and obviously it really has 
no direct bearing on the question, being a point 
not so much touching the origin of the universe 
as the abilities of the mind : a point in psychol- 
ogy not affecting cosmogony, except indirectly. 
But he advances a second argument to strengthen 
the first : " Even were self-existence conceivable, it 
would not in any sense be an explanation of the 
universe," Why would it not? Because, holds Mr. 
Spencer, if the existence of a thing is not com- 
prehensible, it does not become more so by the fact 



416 AGNOSTICISM, 



that it existed long ago, or even always. This is his 
whole argument. The conclusion is : " Thus the 
Atheist theory is not only absolutely unthinkable, but, 
even if it were thinkable, would not be a solution." 
If unthinkable means unbelievable, we agree with 
Mr. Spencer ; but as to the solution of the question 
of origin, surely that question would be laid to 
rise no more if it were proved that all things which 
now are have existed from all eternity. 

For the conclusion that the Atheist theory is un- 
thinkable a reason is assigned, namely, that asserting 

the universe to be self-existent "does not really carry us 

« 

a step beyond the cognition of its present existence ; and 
so leaves us with a mere re-statement of the mystery.'* 
[Italics mine.] No assertion of the existence of a 
thing gives to the hearer a cognition of its existence, 
but the assertion of the self-existence of a thing 
carries the person asserting immensely farther than 
an assertion of its mere existence. The assertion 
of the self-existence of London a mere re-state- 
ment of the assertion of its existence ! It is a 
new statement, totally different, introducing elements 
of immeasurable significancy. Atheist and Theist 
concur in saying that the universe exists ; but when 
the Atheist asserts its self-existence, they part widely 
asunder. And the question whether our minds can 
conceive of its self-existence has no direct bearing 
on the other question whether these worlds and inter- 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 417 

spaces are actually self-existent or not The question 
it has a bearing perfectly direct upon is, whether the 
point is one we can discuss or not. 

Let us for a moment pause to enquire whether it is 
really an impossibility to form a conception of infinite 
past time. It plainly would be so, did forming 
a conception of a thing mean representing all its 

parts in the mind. But if that be 

Can We 

Conceive of forming a conception, no mayor forms a 
Infinite conception of his own city, and no general 

Past Time? r i.- t> ^ i^ /• • 

of his own corps. But by forming a 
conception of an object I mean no more than 
forming such a general idea of it as it will answer 
to, and as nothing else will. 

To apply this to past time : it is not denied that 
we can form a conception of a past day, yet, can we 
picture every second of it ? Neither is it denied that 
we can form a conception of a past week, though we 
still less can picture its separate moments. But this 
increasing generality of our idea does not involve 
increasing indefiniteness, much less unreality, as Mr. 
Spencer seems to believe. On the contrary, our con- 
ception of a past week is just as real and as definite 
as that of a day. From week ascend to year, and 
from year to century. Here the generality of your idea 
is greatly increased, but this brings with it neither 
indistinctness nor unreality. Your idea of a centUr>' 
is quite as real and as sharply defined as that of a 



418 AGNOSTICISM. 



day or an hour. Detailed picturing of parts enters 
not into the case. If you proceed to thousands of 
years, to millions, you do not reach illusive con- 
ceptions or indefinite ones, but only general ones, 
the details of which cannot be comprehended in one 
collective view. You are simply confronted with 
the fact that to a finite mind generals and particulars 
are not both to be grasped at one and the same time. 
When such a mind turns to particulars generals pass 
out of its view, and^ so do particulars when it turns 
to generals. But it is not necessary to confound 
a general idea with a "fictitious" one, or to con- 
found absence of filling up with misrepresentation. 
A general view is such that the particulars will fit 
into it, and rise to view when attention is directed to 
them. Yet Mr. Spencer imagines that the assertions 
we make of things beheld in a general view show 
that we conceive of them in a fictitious way ; an 
idea which his examples do not sustain. 

From another point of view we can easily test the 

question as to whether we can or cannot form a 

conception of infinite past time. Easy 

Conceive a as it is to form a conception of a day. 

Limit to ^e And it not easy to do so of a day 

Past Time ^ .^, ^ ^. . ^ -^ o 

Without time previous to it. So, easy 
as it is to form a conception of a year, it is just 
as difficult to form one of a year with no time before 
it. And if you take a million of years, do you find it 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 419 

possible to conceive of the point at which you begin 
to count as having no duration preceding it ? 

In thinking of the entire of past time the difficulty 
is not to conceive of it as without bounds — ^that, on 
the contrary, is what we cannot help doing. It is not 
merely difficult, it is simply impossible, for us to think 
of it as having bounds around it, and no time beyond 
them. A terminal point or a terminal line having 
on this side of it duration, and on the other side no 
duration, would be a creation of fancy to which even 
Mr. Spencer would not be equal. When Mr. Mill 
would give examples of things of which we cannot 
conceive, he says : " We cannot represent to ourselves 
time and space as having an end. We cannot repre- 
sent to ourselves two and two as making five."' 

We can conceive of a time when neither earth nor 
sun existed, consequently, when time itself, as it is 
known to us, measured out in days and years, existed 
not But we do not on that account conceive of the 
first rolling round of our globe upon its axis as an 
event to which no duration was antecedent. Now, in 
the preceding duration it matters not what point we 
may select — the birthday of Sirius, or that of the most 
distant star yet sighted — we must conceive that date 
as having earlier duration before it On the one hand» 
finite portions of the past are easily conceived of, but, 
on the other hand, the total past, bounded by a 

< MiU'i Ex, of Hamiltmt p. 67. 



420 AGNOSTICISM. 



terminal line beyond which no past had ever existed, 
is what we do not and cannot conceive of. For the 
sum total of past duration it is the boundless and 
not the bounded that is naturally thought of. 

If we find it thus in travelling up the line, so do 
we in travelling downwards. In future duration. 

Can We finite portions are easily conceived of, be 
Conceive a ^^y moments or millions of years, but 

Limit to ^ . . . . . , 

Future ^* ^ point m commg time without any 
Duration? time after it, of a sum total of duration 
that is finite, we never do conceive. Precisely the 
same remarks apply to space. Though these ideas are 
familiar to Mr. Spencer as accepted by philosophers 
of different shades, he rests his case against the self- 
existence of the universe on our assumed inability 
to conceive of an infinite past of time. He thus so 
frames his argument that it bears as much against 
any self-existence as against that of a globe ; as much 
against the self-existence of the Creator as against 
that of the things created. 

This view might seem to be precluded by such a 
principle as the following : " To speak of it [the 
First Cause] as limited, necessarily implies a con- 
ception of something beyond its limits : it is abso- 
lutely impossible to conceive a thing as bounded 
without conceiving a region surrounding its bound- 
aries."' Here we must ask. Is it true or not true 

» First PHn,, % 12. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 421 

that whenever we conceive of an object as bounded » 
we do also conceive of a region beyond it? It is 
absolutely true, and applies equally to duration and 
extension. This fact, recognised by many, renders 
futile their disputations over the word infinite as 
" a mere negation." Though in^mt^ is technically a 
negative term, substantially the negative term is 
finitey and infinite is the double negative which 
reasserts the affirmative. " Finite " asserts non- 
continuity, a negation of extension beyond a given 
degree. This negation infinite takes off, and denies the 
cessation of continuity, and affirms extension without 
bounds. The seeming negative negatives a negation 
— an end which is the negation of further continuity, 
be it in time or space. In negativing this, it affirms 
what Mr. Mill clearly expresses as "greater than 
any finite extension." 

II. — Things Finite and Dependent cajinot be Eternal. 

The nature of both bodies and interspaces shows 
them to us as limited, ending at a given point, no 
longer going on with us in space ; but what then ? 
is everything limited ? does our thought in travelling 
over space reach a line beyond which we are alone ? 
No ; beyond the outermost there is always a further 
outermost. Mr. Spencer's true affirmation, about 
our always conceiving of some region as extending 



422 AGNOSTICISM, 



beyond any line we may fix on, overturns his other 
about an infinite past being inconceivable. This 
is strikingly the case when he asserts that beyond 
any tract to which we may assign limits " there lies 
a region which we are compelled to regard as 
infinite." Can words be plainer or truer? Turn 
whichever way we will, in time or space, the same 
inability encompasses us, inability to find a true end 
of either! Our finite thought is set at a point amid 
two infinities. 

Each particular body in existence bears, in the 
fact of its dimensions, evidence of more than its 
finite character ; it is not limited only, but measured. 
Every globe in space is a measured mass, and is 
running its measured miles. So every globule is a 
measured mite, and moves in measured pulses. Here 
is motion manifestly originating in time. Just as 
vast tracts of space are passed before we reach the 
beginning of any particular body, so are vast lapses of 
duration before we reach the beginning of pulsation 
in these timed motions. Here, then, is an obvious 
ground of difficulty in conceiving of the universe as 
having been in existence from all eternity. These 
globes once came into existence, these orbits were 
once traversed for the first time, these rhythmic throbs 
of minute motion once began. Whether it be a finite 
body, a finite interspace, or a finite motion, it is a 
thing with a beginning, therefore not self-existent 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 423 

Our difficulty is not in conceiving of the infinite, but 
in believing that things manifestly finite are infinite. 
Nor is it merely their dimensions which deprive them 
of any claim to self-existence. 

The spectrum shows that suns and stars are 
compound bodies, which implies that they were 
put together, a fact which, if it stood alone, would 
disprove their self-existence. A third mark against 
their self-existence is this, they exist not singly, but 
in groups, and move in harmonies of groups, each 
D tend Hiember of a group being dependent on 
of Things the Others. These groups in their turn 

Ftniu. 2^j.g Qj^iy. members of larger systems, which 

membership involves further and more complex 
dependence, dependence in rest and dependence in 
motion. How, then, could the idea of self-existence 
attach itself to things which are parts fitted to other 
parts, both forming smaller wholes which ascend into 
larger ones with intricate dependencies at every point 
of the series ? How could it attach to things whose 
movements all represent a beginning, a measure, a 
purpose, a combination, and a fitness as processes in 
one grand whole ? It is not of such things that we 
can affirm " either a duration which never ceases or 
an extension which nowhere comes to an end." ' 
They fall below both of these standards ; hence 
below any claim to be thought of as self-existing. 

1 Mill's Ex, of Hamilton^ p. 34. 



424 AGNOSTICISM. 



If it be said that the eternal existence spoken of 
is not that of globes, but of the atoms or molecules 
whereof globes are composed, the same reasons 
return in full force. An atom is as much a finite 
body as a globe, a molecule as much dependent on 
constituent atoms and kindred molecules as is any 
globe upon constituent elements and kindred globes. 
Each atom has its dimensions, its movement, and 
its surrounding interspaces. The interspaces in ether 
are by Mr. Spencer supposed to be of incredible 
magnitude compared with its atoms. A nebula is a 
collection of atoms, molecules, and spaces, just as the 
universe is a collection of globes, nebulae, and spaces. 
Self-existent constellations are not more remote from 
experience and reason than are self-existent gases. 
Nor is self-existent ether any more known to experi- 
ence than they, or any less contrary to reason. Just 
as globes and constellations while separated by inter- 
spaces are connected by forces, and thus at great 
distances are held communicating and cooperating^ 
so likewise atoms and molecules separated by pro- 
portionate interspaces are connected together by 
minutely measured forces. One finite is adapted to 
another finite, and one dependent to another depen- 
dent ; the multitude of finite things framed together 
in close relation pointing towards some common 
Builder who must be Infinite ; and the multitude of 
dependent things resting on reciprocal supports 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 426 



pointing towards a common Stay that must be 
Almighty. 

Mr. Spencer builds much on the phrase, " passing 
from the imperceptible to the perceptible," which may 
mean several things. It often means, not " passing," 
or doing anything else, but only being found out by 
an observer. The observer may find it out by 
coming nearer to it, by using his eyes better, by 
helping his senses with invented aids, or by himself 
coming into existence. None of these is action on 
the part of the object. All things are imperceptible 

Being where there are no living beings capable of 
Perceptible perceiving them. When upon our earth 
without there was no being with eye, ear, or sense 
an Observer, of temperature, did forms, or sounds, or 
heat ever pass from the imperceptible to the percep- 
tible ? In the sky above and in the laboratory, forms 
as big as a score of worlds, and forms infinitesimally 
small pass from the imperceptible to the perceptible 
simply because the observer has brought to his assist- 
ance telescope and microscope. When it is meant 
that a thing not perceptible through sense while in 
one state becomes so when it enters on another state, 
as invisible water in the atmosphere forming into mist, 
it is a simple fact enough, and one that has no mar- 
vellous mission in teaching cosmogony, any more 
than it has when passing from the perceptible to the 
imperceptible, like the same mist when the sun shines. 

F F 



426 AGNOSTICISM. 



The self-existence of finite and dependent things 
being disproved, it does not follow that the self- 
existence of a Being who is both Infinite and Inde- 
pendent is disproved. There Mr. Spencer's universal 
inference shrinks at once to a particular. So far 
from the proved limits and proved dependency of all 
bodies, of all periods of time and spaces, proving aught 
against the Self-Existence of God, every moment of 
past time, leading as it does upwards to a preceding 
duration — a process which goes on to any conceivable 
extent — ^brings us at last to a sense of infinite past 
duration. Duration is not the duration of nothing. 
When the process ascends above every timed existence, 
it brings us into the presence of Him from whom all 
such descend. In like manner, any measured body 
leads us outward to yet larger dimensions, and ever>' 
bounded interspace to yet wider gulfs. This process 
also goes on to any conceivable extent It thrusts 
upon our thought the idea of a true Infinite. 
Boundless extension is no more the Infinity of 
nothing, than is boundless duration the Eternity of 
nothing. 

III. — Motion not Self-existent. 

Evidence against the self-existence of motion is 
urged upon both our senses and our reason, in a 
manner analogous to that in which evidence against 
the self-existence of matter is urged. The finite 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 4^27 

character of every form of matter, the interdepen- 
dence of all its portions one upon another, and the 
place of the whole in a system in which matter plays 
much the same part as ballast does in a ship, are not 
more conclusive than are in the case of motion its 
finite dimensions, the dependence of motion on 
motion, of one on many and many on one, and 
the utter dependence of all motion on some medium 
or vehicle. Before motion can arise its medium 
must exist; and to the medium must be added 
an impulse. Before the current can run from 
city to city, the wire must stretch all the way. 
And the wire would never make the current That 
cannot be set up till a living person with a design 
and will gives it existence. Mr. Spencer, in one of 
his most interesting chapters, dwells on the rhythm 
of motion. In every motion in nature the rhythm 
is measured, and each separate mode of motion is 
measured on a different scale. All these rhythms 
tell of origin in mind, and of end by some work done, 
as clearly as does the rhythm of verses, that of a 
piano, or of our gait in walking. The successive 
pulses of motion which constitute its rhythm and the 
measure of those pulses in its various modes lead 
us up to a moment when it was started, and earlier 
than that we see a design which the measure adapted 
it to fulfil; while at the moment of starting an impulse 
was imparted which sufficed to send it forth, and 

F F 2 



428 AGNOSTICISM. 



following that moment a directing power which 
keeps it on its course. The imagination becomes 
overwhelmed when we endeavour to trace through 
space and through matter the multitudinous rush 
of motions made known by the patient power of 
scientists : motions differing in time, in amplitude, in 
momentum ; motions meeting, crossing, and intercross- 
ing, yet each cooperating towards some end. One's 
imagination often takes post at some point central 
between all the suns, and tries to picture the multitude 
of runners from world to world which in that point 
converge and diverge again, with the rate of speed 
and particular rhythm of each. The reason avers that 
every beat in the vibrations of each of these, and 
every passage in the harmony of all, speak to us of a 
single, grand iroirirrj^ — a Maker-minstrel, Author 
and Performer in One. 

When Mr. Spencer treats the question of the self- 
existence of the universe as one to be settled merely 
as if it were a point respecting our powers of con- 
ception, so making it really a question in psychology, 
he seems like one who should treat the assertion that 
London exists by saying, It is impossible for the 
human mind to conceive a city with more than 
4,000,000, of inhabitants ; and any conception of it one 
may suppose himself to form is a symbolical, not a 
real one. Real or symbolical, it is the conception of 
a thing actually existing, And the question whether 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 429 

or not matter and interspace, force and motion, life, 
mind, and moral agency combined into one universe 
is self-existent or originated, is no more capable of 
being settled by puzzles about conceptions than is 
the question of the existence of a city of an extent 
unbelievable to many, in Africa and Asia, and 
utterly inconceivable to all, if Mr. Spencer's ideas of 
conception are just 

IV. — Tlu Supposition of Self-creation^ called 

Pant/ieistic, 

The second supposition, namely, that the universe 
is self-created, is regarded by Mr. Spencer as being 
practically that of Pantheism. It seems hardly fair 
to that system to father upon it so palpable a 
self-contradiction. The phrase " self-creation *' places 
substantial existence — that is, the self — earlier in time 
than the commencement of existence, which is 
creation. Pantheism denies creation altogether ; and 
treats all phenomena as equally the play of a single 
Being ; and as misconceived whenever they are 
thought of as anything but that being. Therefore, 
not self-creation but universal identity is the view 
proper to Pantheism. In it God recognizes His iden- 
tity with the universe ; and men are to recognize 
their own identity with God. What it calls " mani- 
festations," alias phenomena, are manifestations 



430 AGNOSTICISM, 



of the same to the same ; what it calls recognition is 
the recognition of the same by the same ; all things 
are one scroll of illusions evermore unfolding, and 
crackling as it unfolds. It denies creation because 
there is no creature, just as Atheism denies it because 
there is no Creator. 

Against the idea of self-creation, which might have 
been dismissed as a self-contradiction, Mr. Spencer 
, alleges that, if we accept it, we must " con- 
and ceive of potential existence passing into 
Actual actual existence by some inherent necessity." 
This obvious inference he reinforces by the 
extraordinary reason : " We cannot form an idea of 
the potential existence of the universe as distinguished 
from its actual existence." All he had to show was 
that we cannot form an idea of its potential existence 
as inhering in nothing ; and that he might trust to 
show itself. But he passes from such solid ground 
to assert that we cannot form an idea of its potential 
existence, as distinguished from its actual existence ! 
As surely as we cannot think of potential existence 
as inhering in nothing, so surely we can think of 
it as inhering in an Infinite and Almighty Being. 
Before the matter, the spaces, the forces, and the 
motion whereof the universe is composed there must 
have existed a thought capable of devising them, and 
a power capable of producing them, which thought 
and power must have been put forth in act. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 4S1 

We easily conceive of the potential existence of 
inert bodies. Given what are called the four organo- 
gens (oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon), and 
you have in them the potential existence of com- 
pounds innumerable. You cannot conceive of the 
potential existence of a speech as inhering in nothing, 
either " by necessity," or otherwise ; nor yet of its in- 
hering in a stone — nay, nor even in a magpie. But, 
given Mr. Gladstone, and the potential existence 
of a speech inhering in him is not difficult to con- 
ceive of, as distinguished from its actual existence. 
The fact is, you cannot conceive of an orator without 
conceiving of the potential existence of speeches 
which have never yet become actual, and may never 
become so. So you cannot conceive of an Infinite 
and Almighty Being without conceiving of the 
potential existence of the universe antecedently to 
its actual existence. As the supposition of self- 
existing finite things sinks from under us, leaving 
us resting on the basis of a self-existing Infinite 
Being, so does the supposition of a self-created 
universe sink from under us, leaving us resting 
upon the rock of an Almighty Creator. 

V. — Creation by External Agency ^ called the Tkeistic 

Theory, 

We now come to the third of the theories, that of 
Creation by External Agency^ which Mr. Spencer 



432 AGNOSTICISM. 



regards as that of the Theists. We noted that his 
argument against the Atheistic theory told, if it told 
at all, equally against the Theistic one. How well 
he knew this appears in his manner of closing the 
•discussion on the Theistic idea: "Whoever argues 
that the Atheistic hypothesis is untenable because 
it involves the impossible idea of self-existence^ must, 
perforce, admit that the Theistic hypothesis is 
untenable if it contains the same impossible idea." 
[Italics mine.] Now, it is Mr. Spencer who puts the 
argument against Atheism on the ground that it 
involves the idea of self-existence, and he, therefore, 
may feel bound to hold the Theistic idea untenable, 
seeing it contains the same idea. But his impression 
that Theists put the objection he puts seems to be 
accounted for only by his eagerness to kill two birds 
with one stone. How could Theists argue against 
Atheism on the ground that it involves the idea of 
self-existence, when one of the fundamental points 
in Theism is the self-existence of God ? To Theists 
the self-existence of dependent creatures is one thing, 
and the self-existence of an infinite Creator is 
another. But his own stone kills, if it kill at all, not 
two birds only, but three ; for his own system is that 
of a self-evolved universe, which clearly implies a 
self-existing one, evolution being incapable of doing 
more than change what existed. 

Another point which indicates want of attention to 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 433 



the doctrine of which he is treating is the phrase, 
** Creation by external agency." What the " agency '' 
is composed of, whether of a syndicate, a firm, or 
machinery, he does not say. In what sense he intro- 
duces the word " external " he does not say. Probably 
in the sense of " in another part of space'* ; for, im- 
probable as such an interpretation might seem, we 
must be guided by the following, which further indi- 
cates the measure of his acquaintance with the beliefs 
lite Cabinet' he was undertaking to eradicate : " In the 
Maker. cosmogony long current among ourselves,'* 
he asserts, " it is assumed that the genesis of the 
heavens and the earth is effected somewhat after 
the manner in which a workman shapes a piece of 
furniture." A workman shaping a piece of furniture 
occupies a different part of space from that occupied 
in the first instance by the materials and later by the 
article; he, therefore, is properly an external agent 
Moreover, he deals with materials made to his hand, 
and effects every change by mechanical forces. Now, 
Mr, Herbert Spencer believes that the Bible teaches 
that the heavens and the earth received their origin 
" somewhat after this manner " : that is, it teaches that 
God created the heavens and the earth out of material 
made to His hand, and while standing outside of the 
material and using mechanical force. " God said, Let 
there be light, and there was light" That is a genesis 
given in somewhat the same manner as a workman 



484 AGNOSTICISM, 

shapes a piece of furniture ! God " spake and it was 
done, He commanded and it stood fast." Here we 
Creation by have the Bible idea of the manner in which 
Command. ^^ Creator gives to finite things their 
genesis, an idea which runs through the book. This 
conception of creation by a command marks off the 
cosmogony of the Bible from all others, ancient or 
modern. Creation by fiat js not the manner in 
which a cabinet-maker produces his articles ; nor yet 
somewhat after that manner. Existence bestowed 
by will and word is the single note sounded in holy 
Scripture from first to last. " By faith we understand 
that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so 
that things which are seen were not made of things 
which do appear."' This conception has probably 
done more to shape the thought of nations touching 
the cosmos than any other in the history of thought 
It has done so with the effect of emancipating mind 
from many puerile surmises. This " cosmogony long 
current among ourselves " does not assume that the 
globes in space were " framed " by hands, or that 
things which appear yielded the material for all that 
is. It assumes the productive power of an all-sullic- 
ing Being, whose simple fiat bestows existence and 
appoints its form and measure. 

To see where Mr. Spencer's description would apply, 
and where it is misapplied, one has only to set 

s Heb, xi. 3. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 48d 

beside the account in Genesis of the creation of light 
the one given in the Veda of the production of Fire, 
the god. The feat of eliciting flame by friction of two 
pieces of wood is in view, and the text reads : " The 
apparatus of attrition is ready ; the generation of the 
flame is ready ; take up this stick, the protectress of 
mankind, and let us chum the fire as has been done 
of old."^ This lies upon the level of Mr. Spencer's 
genesis; in comparison Moses and the Prophets 
are as the shooting stars in comparison with fire- 
flies. But signs of an earlier and nobler conception 
are not wanting in the Hindu scriptures, as, for 
instance, when Brahm is lepresented as creating the 
waters by a thought, and placing within them the 
seed whence sprang the mundane egg which produced 
Brahma the Creator, f>., Brahm himself in that form. 
The mixture here does not cover out of sight the 
original conception of creation by direct fiat of spirit 
power. 

The power of production by word being super- 
human, the conception of it is also superhuman. 

Conception That Conception was for ever graven and 
and illuminated by the first expression of the 

Production, gj^^ . « j^^ ^^^ beginning.*' Finite things 

were thus defined as being also temporal things that 
had a beginning. Before their origin there existed, not 
an eternal nothing, but a Being able to confer being : 

Sanghita of the Rig Veda, Vol. III., p. 34. 



486 AGNOSTICISM. 



"in the beginning, God'^ He conferred it by His 
simple command : " In the beginning God created^ 
He needed only to say, Let it be, and it was, what- 
ever might be the thing called into existence. The 
power of such a Being by His word, independently 
of all which characterizes the labour of an artisan, to 
create, construct, and destroy, is not only pervasive 
in the Bible, but in the thought and literature of all 
nations whose beliefs have been coloured by it, or 
by the common traditions of the race in its central 
seats, before the Biblical epoch. To the Word of 
the prophet, of the mantis, of the rishi, of the 
sage, from India to Scandinavia was often attributed 
a power independent of material, of distance, and of 
all traceable processes. Judging of Mr. Spencers 
knowledge by the pages he devotes to the subject, 
we might suppose that he had never heard of the 
conception of creation entertained by Christians, 
Jews, and Mohammedans, and had to frame one for 
them out of his own fertility. Does he suppose that 
when Sir John Herschel employed his celebrated 
phrase, in describing an atom, "a manufactured 
article," he had any idea of a forge or factory in his 
mind ? or that Prophet and Psalmist had such when 
they spoke of God as " stretching out the heavens as 
a curtain," or of their being the work of His hands? 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 43T 



VI. — The Universe Assumed to Consist of Matter. 

The true point is struck when Mr. Spencer speaks 
of the real mystery as lying in " the origin of the 
material of which the universe consists." This, how- 
ever, assumes that the universe consists of matter, 
whereas Matter, Motion, and Force are recognized 
as constituents by Mr. Spencer. Of these three only 
one is matter, and how small is the proportionate 
space it occupies is now familiar to us. When we 
likened it to ballast in a ship we suggested a propor- 
tionate magnitude totally unwarranted ; a true propor- 
tion would come nearer to the amount of gold in the 
pockets of the crew and officers. If we held that, 
even with a knowledge of its ultimate units, matter 
would remain "absolutely unknown," we should be 
nearer understanding how Lucretius calls his atoms 
by three incongruous names : matter, or stuff, genera- 
tive organs, and seeds. Stuff they are, but they are 
all equal, and therefore none of them can generate 
the rest. Again, seeds are not generative organs, 
but generated germs, having in them, over and above 
the mere stuff, worlds of form, of force, of motion, of 
affinity, and of potentiality — a store from the genera- 
tive power of the past, and a potency for the future, 
both equally lacking to mere stuff. Three positions 
in nature so flagrantly dissimilar as those of mere 
material, generative bodies, and seeds are not easily 



438 AGNOSTICISM, 



assigned to the same thing in common life, but are so 
in the tentative stages of abstract speculation. The 
confusion might cease after those stages.' 

Taking note, then, of this assumption that it is 
matter of which the universe consists, we pass on. 
" The production of matter out of nothing is the real 
mystery." Here we agree ; but let us suppose that, 
instead of the production of matter out of nothing, we 
had to account for the production by matter of Space, 
and all the other structural, mental, moral, and spiri- 
tual elements of the Universe, the case would be not 
only one of mystery, but of unbelievable absurdity. 

The production of matter out of nothing would 
also be unbelievable if it meant, as it seems to be 

Production generally taken to mean, the production 

Out of q{ it by nothing! That, however, the 

or Production words never can mean. Production sup- 

by Nothing, poses the pre-existence of some one to 
act as producer. Here comes out the difference 
between creation as the Almighty can create and 
creation as finite creatures are said to do so. 

The creature can conceive ; that is, he can give 
within his mind an existence to a thing which else- 



i Quae nos materiem et genitalia corpora rebus 
Reddunda in ratione vocare et semina renim 
Appellate suemus et hsec cadem usurpare corpora prima. 
Dt Rcrum NcUura^ I. 58, etc. Munro translates the names: matter, 
begetting bodies of things, seeds of things, first bodies : i.#., atoms, 
material, genital organs, and seeds. 



THE ORTOm OF THE UNIVERSE, 489 

where has no existence. Shakespeare could conceive 
King Lear, some one could conceive the Taj Mehal, 
Mr. Spencer could conceive the Synthetic Philosophy; 
each finite mind having its personal power, peculiar 
to itself, and incommunicable to friend or heir. But 
when its conception is complete as to substance and 
form, and awaits s6me embodiment, the creative 
powers pause. They cannot make matter. Given 
matter already made, and mind can impress upon it 

Qnuepiion ^^'^^^ '^^^ ^^ itself it would never evolve, 

and motions, forms, relations composed into a 

Proiiuction. ^yorking whole. Shakespeare could not 

make air in which to sound the poem his imagination 
had fashioned, or surfaces on which to write it. 
These must come to him as genii from above to 
aid his plan. So the architect of the Taj could not 
make stone, or lime, or clay, or wood. This is the 
step where the creature halts : conceive the thing 
that exists not, he can ; compose a thing which never 
before existed, he can ; but produce the material 
which enables the conception to embody itself in 
sensible form, he absolutely cannot. This inability of 
the creature our anthropomorphism ascribes also to 
the Creator; for they who most loudly accuse be- 
lievers of that offence are in all things given to it. 
And this- poor inference from human inability to 
divine inability forms a barrier which no cosmogony 
but that of the Bible surmounts. 



440 AGNOSTICISM, 



It never speaks of the earth and heavens as coming 
out of nothing. Nor yet does it ever speak of the 
Creator as needing matter made to hand in order to 
form either earth or sky. Earlier than matter He 
inhabits eternity, and centres in Himself all powers. 
He is as capable of producing matter as of producing 
thought, or form, or motion. But the link between 
conception and production creature never saw. Matter 
given to us, between conception and it lies force, — 
force which serves mind in imposing upon matter form, 
movement, position, relation, and so in causing it to 
become what by development it never would become, 
and to do what it never would do ; but force which 
has no efficacy at all towards replenishing vacancy 
with new matter. It is this incapacity to produce 
matter which Christians cannot transfer from man to 
God. 

VI I. — An Assumption of Self-Existence Necessary 

Sotneivhere, 

The three theories recognized by Mr. Spencer are 
now before us: those of a self-existing universe, a 
self-created universe, and a universe created by exter- 
nal agency. These three Agnosticism binds up in 
one bundle, holding that, as to them all, " it is not a 
question of probability, or credibility, but of con- 
ceivability." So completely are they all three out 
of court, that "we can entertain them only as we 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 441 

entertain such pseud-ideas as a square fluid and a 
moral substance" ; what mode of entertainment that 
is, Mr. Spencer f>ermits us to learn. It is 'abstaining^ 
from the endeavour to render them into actual 
thought/' 

With all this, the fact does not escape Mr. Spencer 
that, in spite of what he said about self-existence 
being an impossible idea, this very impossible idea is 
the one which underlies each of the three supposi- 
tions. Nature might take pleasure in making that 
actual which Mr. Sp>encer holds to be impossible, and 
that known which he holds to be unknowable. " It 
is impossible to avoid making the assumption of 
self-existence somewhere." This startling assertion, 
after the assumption has been proscribed as an 
"impossible idea," is, however, perfectly true. The 
three theories, even in Mr. Spencer's manner of 
stating them, all involve the assumption of self- 
existence somewhere. The Atheist theory assumes 
the self-existence of matter, the Pantheistic theory 
the self-existence of everything, and the Theistic 
theory the self-existence of God, which it pleases 
Mr. Spencer to call that of " external agency." The 
question, therefore, is not as to who does what 
cannot be done, seeing all do it; or as to who 
entertains an idea that is an impossible idea, seeing 
all entertain it. The question is. Who assumes self- 
existence in the right place? One passage would 

G G 



442 AGNOSTICISM. 



appear to give the suffrage of Mr. Spencer to the 
Atheistic theory : "Impossible as it is to think of 
the actual Universe as self-existing, we do but mul- 
tiply impossibilities of thought by every attempt 
we make to explain its existence." Hence it appears 
that if the first theory lies under an impossibility of 
thought, the other two lie under the same impos- 
sibility multiplied ! Whether the highest multiple of 
impossibility lies upon the Pantheistic theory or the 
Theistic one, is not said. Whatever might be the 
effect of this passage if it stood alone, Mr. Spencer is 
certainly no Atheist. 

Making, then, the most moderate use of the 

admission that self-existence, instead of being an 

impossible idea, is a necessary one, and 

Suppose ^Yizt we must assume it somewhere, let us 

Universal 

Non-exisUfue. assume the self-existence of Space and of 
nothing else — of space wWiout eit/ier mind 
or matter in it. This, I contend, is the only rational 
starting point for speculation on the origin of the 
universe. We do nothing if we set out with a 
universe of mist That is matter with motion, there- 
fore with forces ; and beginning with it is beginning 
in the middle. This mist might be the dust of what 
had been compact globes for vast ages. Dust thou 
art and to dust thou shalt return, is true of greater 
bodies than that of man. We must go back beyond 
the dust, back beyond the molecule, back beyond the 



J 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE\ 44S 

atom, and if lower than the atom there be a homo- 
geneous unit, back beyond that — back to the non- 
existence of matter, to the non-existence of mind — 
back to nothing. 

Now, if the idea of self-existence can be entertained 
only as we entertain that of a square fluid, how can the 
idea of universal non-existence be entertained ? In- 
finite space and no matter in it; infinite space and no 
mind in it ; infinite space and no force in it ; infinite 
space and no motion in it — is this to be mother of the 
universe ? Here is neither mind to produce matter 
nor yet matter to evolve mind. We are in the lonely 
gulf of nought, and out of nothing will nothing come. 
Language itself repudiates the attempted conception 
as a really impossible idea: "we are" cannot come 
into the realm of non-existence. The fact that any 
theory capable of being stated assumes self-existence 
somewhere, and that no theory assumes a nothing out 
of which all things arise, is tolerably clear proof that 
the " impossible idea" is not that of self-existence, but 
that of universal non-existence. None will plead for 
the idea of nothing ever making anything or becoming 
anything. When speaking of the notion of the poten- 
tial existence of the universe inhering in nothing, Mr. 
Spencer says that it involves the absurdity of a 
"nothing distinguished from all other nothings by 
its power to develop into something." Here, again, 
language refuses to stoop to the attempted idea 

G G 2 



444 AGNOSTICISM, 



" Its power " is thought utterly alien from the idea of 
nothing. The reason why out of nothing nothing 
comes is that in nothing nothing is. 

Let those who speak of the creation of bodies out 
of nothing as if it were tantamount to their creation 
by nothing reflect for a moment on their own miscon- 
ception. " God created " is a word that clears away 
any such obscurities. It places self-existence, which 
we must suppose somewhere, precisely there where 
it is of a nature to account for all derived and 
dependent existences. 

VIII. — Three ot/ter Tluories, 

Three alternatives other than those stated by Mr. 
Spencer have long seemed to me those to which we 
are held. Seeing that we must assume self-existence 
somewhere, which is assuming eternal existence 
somewhere, we may suppose : — 

1. An Eternal Nothing, which originated both mind 
and matter. 

2. An Eternal Matter, which originated mind. 
. 3. An Eternal Mind, which originated matter. 

Of these three possible suppositions the first dis- 
appears at once. A Nothing producing mind, matter^ 
and the scheme and powers of the universe is not 
only unbelievable but inconceivable. It is incon- 
ceivable, among other reasons, because the sup- 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 446 

position itself is a fiction : it is no supposing of self- 
existence to suppose a nothing. The only result of 
supposing an Eternal Nothing would be to confess 
all Mind as of temporal origin, as well as all matter, 
which appears to be as clearly so as finite minds. 
The second supposition, that of Eternal Matter 
which originates mind, if not inconceivable is un- 
believable, weighted with infinite improbabilities. 
The third supposition, that of Eternal Mind which 
originates matter, is conceivable, is believable, 
is accordant with all probabilities. It is thus 
manifest that, practically, the issue must be taken 
as between Eternal Matter producing mind and an 
Eternal Mind producing matter. 

Both mind and matter are here, existing together 

in space and time; and, »since we assume that they 

Mind and were not produced by nothing, we are 

Matter, led to ask. Which is the more likely to 

Aidhor '^^^^ produced the other? It is manifest 

of the that as mind and body are known in 

Other'i ^,^ J Qj^ Qyj. globe they are both of them 

finite, and both of them dependent. It is further 
manifest that here the more ancient is matter; for 
all animated bodies are such that their existence 
must have been preceded by that of the world. 
Terrestrial mind and terrestrial matter being with- 
out any mark of self-existence, and with clear marks 
of an existence which was originated at some point 



446 AGNOSTICISM. 



in past time, both of them prompt us to enquire, 
Whence was their origin ? Matter, at least, is not 
limited to earth : in the air, and in the worlds beyond, 
it exists and is closely akin to matter here. Is 
mind, then, limited to earth, and has it no kindred 
beyond ? If the mass of our globe has in the sun a 
kindred mass a million times as great, and in other 
suns kindred masses of greatness incalculable, is 
mind nowhere greater than upon this earth? and 
even as to terrestrial mind, is its activity confined 
to the terrestrial sphere ? That question raises 
another : How do we know that matter exists 
beyond our earth ? Only by mind, and it knows 
only by means of its excursions outside of these 
bounds. The strata of rocks know nothing of the 
mountains in the moon, and air knows nothing of 
the photosphere of the sun. They have no power 
of exploring. We come, therefore, to a comparison 
of the probabilities as to which of these two, mind 
or matter, is pointed out, by the probabilities of the 
case, as the type of the First Cause. 

To begin at the point which we have just reached : 
Mind knows and is not known by matter; matter 
knows not and is known by mind. Mind thinks, and 

Mind and '^ "^* thought about by matter; matter 
Matter does not think, and is thought about by 

Contrasted, j^jj^ j Mind observes, and is not observed 

by matter ; matter does not observe, and is observed 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 447 



by mind. Mind is both its own object and its own 
subject; matter is neither its own object nor its own 
subject. Mind investigates itself and matter ; matter 
investigates neither itself nor mind. Mind asks 
questions and answers them ; matter neither asks nor 
answers. Mind frames sciences both of itself and 
of matter ; matter frames none of either. Mind ex- 
periments upon matter ; matter does not experiment 
even on itself Mind originates movement in matter 
when at rest, and stays movement in it when in 
motion ; matter does not move itself when at rest, 
nor yet stop itself when moving. Mind designs to 
change the forms, the properties, and the employ- 
ments of matter, and does it ; it designs to bring 
forth new forms of matter unknown to nature, and 
does it ; matter neither designs nor does these 
things, whether for itself or for mind. Mind feels 
pain and pleasure ; matter feels neither. Mind is 
led by the prospect of either pain or pleasure to act 
and to make bodies move ; matter is never led to 
act by any prospect of pain or pleasure, and, as 
has been said, never moves till moved, and never 
stops till stopped. In one word, human mind can 
do a thousand things with matter, although it is 
incapable of producing it, or yet of annihilating it 
— incapable even of changing the nature of one of 
its elementary bodies, or their mode of combining 
with others. 



448 AGNOSTICISM. 



When, therefore, we raise the question whether it 
is more reasonable to believe that Matter contained 
the potential existence of Mind, or that Mind 
contained the potential existence of Matter, there 
can be no hesitation grounded on any assignable 
data. The data all point one way. Human mind, 
as we have seen, cannot make matter, and cannot 
annihilate it, yet it can in ten thousand ways modify 
and control it — can construct and destroy fabrics 
composed of it. Thus on the one hand it is not either 
its creator or disposer, and on the other hand it is 
its superior. Both finite, both dependent, and yet 
not equal, they are manifestly fellow-creatures placed 
side by side here, fitted to work together and combine 
into one system — a system twofold, indeed, but 

Matter harmonious. They are never in nature 

not Evil contrasted as the one good and the other 
evil, any more than they are in the Bible. 
Each is a creature of God, and therefore aborigin- 
ally good, and both unitedly form one whole which 
we call creation, which whole, again, was in the 
beginning good. 

Taken by itself, matter is not capable of either 
mental or moral evil, nor yet of pain or pleasure. 
Pain is mental evil ; wrong is moral evil. Mind of 
the humblest kind is capable of pain and capable 
of mental error, but incapable of moral wrong or 
condemnation, either self-condemnation or otherwise. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 449 

Spirit alone does moral wrong, alone is capable of 
consciously violating a law ; it alone is capable of 
both mental error and moral fault, and it alone is 
capable of the highest kinds of pain and pleasure — 
kinds combining mental, moral, and spiritual elements 
into a sublime whole. Never in the Bible is the seat 
of evil placed in matter : it is in spirit. It is the 
carnal mind that is enmity against God. What works 
in the children of disobedience is not a material 
dulness, but a " spirit," which is a "power." The mere 
matter, the mere body, often taken by the heathen 
philosophers as the source of all sin, is in the 
Bible but its instrument, and the body itself is 
there claimed as originally destined to be the instru- 
ment of God for righteousness, yea, to be His temple ; 
claimed as, by redemption, destined in immortal 
life to high degrees of glory as a spiritual body, 
to which lofty ends the erring soul is warned and 
counselled to restore it back. 

This reminds me of a curious passage where Mr. 
Spencer evidently thinks that they who speak of brute 
matter abuse it; and even hints at their ignorance 
and vulgarity ! Bnite Bodies is the literal translation 
of Comte's heading for the sciences of Astronomy, 
Physics, and Chemistry {Sciences des Corps Bruts), It 
simply means crude; or, in commerce, raw material. 
The Latin word, of course, meant dull and stupid, 
whether applied to a man or an animal. We should 



460 AGNOSTICISM. 



never in contempt call clay or metal as slow-witted 
as a mule: the abuse would be to call the mule as 
senseless as clay. By "brute," when applied to a 
man, we often mean cruel, which mere matter never 
is, any more than it is slow-witted. It is below either 
of these faults. But "brute matter" is a phrase 
simply meaning lifeless matter, and it is scarcely 
they who use terms in a classical sense who are to 
be called ignorant and vulgar. 

Matter incapable of sin or blame, but equally 
incapable of virtue or praise, and mind capable of 
them all, are coordinated members of the great whole, 
without either of which we know not of any universe. 
Not only are they coordinated in the universe, but 
also in our own being, so as to constitute a single 
person with two natures. The human mind is fitted 
with a body not particularly well suited to be an 
organ of physical force, but wonderfully suited to be 
one of mental rule over animals and material instru- 
ments. Yet mind and matter, though thus coordinated 
and thus closely allied, are not co-extensive. Only a 
portion of matter, which in comparison with the 
whole is scarcely appreciable, is animated. Add to 
this the quantity that is organic, and it amounts to 
a mere fraction. Taking the known universe in its 
length and breadth, the matter in it animated and 
inanimate constitutes but groups of islets here and 
there. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 451 

The question, then, returns : Did Matter exist first 
and bring forth mind, or did Mind exist first and 
produce matter? Which of the two conceptions is 
the more rational, the more in accord with all the 
analogies of experience — that of an Eternal Mind 
which says of matter. Let it be ! or that of Eternal 
Matter which produced mind ? Let us recall certain 
marks which we have found attaching to matter. 
It exists in finite portions widely separated, and 
the known total of it is finite ; every part of it is 
dependent ; nearly all of it is inanimate ; and the 
entire mass of it suffices but to dot the space of 
the universe. Matter, then, cannot account for the 
interspaces. It could neither make them nor give 
to them just proportion. Yet the interspaces, the 
distances, are as manifestly part of the one great 
system as are either bodies or finite minds. The 
numberless forms of action and reaction which take 
place athwart those interspaces are proof of a power 
uniting body to body across vacuity — proof of an 
active direction pervading every point of space. 

Terrestrial mind and terrestrial matter are our 
materials for scientific observation. The sphere of 
their influence is soon described ; that of matter 
in the form of attraction is uniform, fixed by 
immovable decree. This influence extends beyond 
our world, to the moon conspicuously, farther into 
space less conspicuously, but not less really; and 



462 AGNOSTICISM. 



in addition to this influence, matter piece by piece 

exerts sundry other influences on contiguous pieces, 

influences varying with the kind of matter. All of 

them, however, obey laws of the same order as 

Matter gravitation, being fixed in every particular 

and the of their operation, without any opening 

nerspaces. ^^^ ^^^ exercisc of judgment, choice, or 

enterprise. But as to terrestrial interspaces, what can 
matter do? Can the gold in the Australian rocks 
move away to the marts of Europe ? Can the ice on 
the Arctic seas transfer itself to the thirsty in New 
York, or send word of where it is to be found ? Here 
it fails ; for it the interspaces of earth are the inac- 
cessible, as other worlds are for man. It may be 
carried across them, but passing over them or sending 
over them by its own power is impossible. 

Does this inability attach to mind ? Finite as it is. 

Mind ^^ ^^^ master much of the difficulty of 

and the terrestrial interspaces, and penetrate much 

hucrspacts. ^f ^^^j^ mystcry. While the bridging 

over of distances or transferring itself over them is 
utterly alien from matter, it is one of the standing 
occupations of embodied mind. It is only in mind 
that the thought of such things can arise. Whatever 
may be the space occupied by any body of mere 
matter, that space is the total sphere of its presence, 
whether it be an atom or a world ; and the forces which 
automatically stream out from it, by fixed laws, are 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 458 

its total of influence. But the space occupied by its 
body is only the point of departure for the activity of 
the human mind, and the forces wnich automatically 
stream out from that body by fixed laws are not 
even reckoned as among its sources of influence. 
The sphere of a man's bodily presence does not 
contain his thoughts, desires, or projects for a single 
day. His mind constantly projects the sphere of its 
activity beyond that of his presence. It ranges over 
all space and over all time, the antipodes, the stars, 
or the next-door house being equally within reach of 
its thoughts ; and if thus with objects in space, so is 
it with those in time : Adam and the last man are 
thought of with equal facility. In these excursions 
a sense of kindred with Infinite Mind alternately 
overawes it and buoys it up ; whereas what it feels 
in respect of matter is companionship rather than 
kindred. It sees that for matter the limit of 
bodily presence is its whole limit, while for itself 
the limit of bodily presence is but the limit of its 
fulcrum. Therefore the terrestrial distances offer to 
mind a continuous inducement to activity. It can 
bridge over the gulf from London to New Zealand, 
and, what is more, can send, with a speed almost 
as of thought, its words, wishes, commands over 
the whole interspace, and make them take effect in 
various actions. 

Hence we almost feel as if that idea of presence 



454 AGNOSTICISM. 



only in one place which we rigorously attach to 
matter, and which we seem bound to attach also to 
finite mind, were overshadowed with some kind of 
doubt, and as if the mind really overstepped the 
bodily sphere. When we see that an operator in 
India determines the motions of a machine here, and 
makes it utter his words, we feel as if mind and mind 
were in presence, the vast interspace notwithstanding. 
That mind has controlled motions over a space to 
which the extent of its own body is but as the breadth 
of a cambric thread to a great plain. This control of 
motion beyond the sphere of presence is one of the 
familiar sights in life, and one that bears the thoughts 
away to the contemplation of an all-pervasive control 
of Mind. When the Indian juggler plays with t^'o 
balls, his control as to whither they shall go and when 
they shall return to his hand is as complete during 
the time that they are detached from his person as 
during the time when they touch it. It is not the 
completeness of that control that is increased when 
the two balls become four, nor yet the evidence of 
the fact that bodies flying free are strictly under the 
direction of mind ; what is increased is the complexity 
of the movements over which this direction is exer- 
cised. The error of a hairbreadth, as Hazlitt put it, or 
of the smallest conceivable portion of time, "would be 
fatal"; yet mind, giving to each ball the needful atten- 
tion, and exerting upon it the proper force, sustains its 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 466 



mastery over the motions which it originated. Those 
balls are as capable of guiding themselves as are 
worlds, and as capable of evolving their own first 
impulses. The spectacle of mind first impelling and 
then guiding them will ever, to the thinker, suggest 
the conception of a Mind first setting in motion and 
then guiding all the spheres which revolve in space: a 
Mind the sphere of whose presence no body can tran- 
scend in its dimensions, or overpass in its courses. 
The very form of bodies is a proclamation of limits, 
and precludes any possibility of conceiving of them as 
present throughout space. In fact, the corresponding 
interspace is part of our conception of any two bodies, 
even closely related. We speedily see to the ends of 
any single body, whether a world or an atom. But just 
this defined boundary is what fails us in respect of 
mind ; its flights, its glances, its far-reaching control, 
even when working through a body, stimulate us, 
constrain us to that very conception of a Mind 
pervading and controlling all the spaces of infinity, 
from which the local limitations of body drive us 
back. It would not be harder to conceive of the 
juggler's balls keeping up and coming right to his 
hand without a controlling mind than to conceive of 
the revolutions of the great worlds without a Mind 
preserving order in perpetuity, or than to conceive 
without a controlling mind of the numberless concus- 
sions whereby every atom in space is " bombarded " 



466 AGNOSTICISM, 



resulting in ordered movements. And it would be 
no more unreasonable to think of the balls as giving 
origin to the juggler than to think of the bodies 
which circle in space as having given origin to the 
Mind which guides them and us. Of course the word 
bodies in this sentence applies equally to worlds- 
atoms in the aggregate, or to atoms — worlds in 
miniature. ' 

The Agnostic method of avoiding the conclusion 
that matter is a creature of an Almighty mind is to 
treat matter and mind as being practically identical, 
though phenomenally incapable of being identified. 
Of all the treasons of metaphysics against physics 
this would seem to be the most radical, and of all 
concessions of physics to metaphysics the acceptance 
of this position by physicists would seem to be the 
least capable of showing any scientific plausibility. 
To commend this rejection of the evidence of phe- 
nomena, all of which testify to the perfectly distinct 
nature of mind and matter, Mr. Spencer avoids 
calling either of them by any name implying that it 
is a substance, and substitutes for both a name that 
describes not any substance, but only a mode oj 
operation possible in any substances. He calls mind 
and matter " proximate activities." Now, nothing is 
an activity but activity itself ; for the term is merely 
the abstract name for agility in operation, leaving the 
operating substance unmentioned — indeed, absolutely 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 467 

indifferent. When to the phrase " proximate activi- 
ties " we attach such real meanings as it admits of, 
they are : rates of motion nearly equal, or modes of 
motion nearly identical, or two pieces of matter in 
motion whereof the forces are nearly equal. Such 
are things with which science can deal, and their 
activities admit of being formulated. But when 
metaphysics attempt to shape physics by phrases, 
" proximate activities " is not a bad one. In the 
penumbra of science are always floating many 
guesses, hypotheses, and inchoate conceptions, out 
of which metaphysicians in all ages have con- 
cocted facts, which " facts " physicists often accept 
provisionally with great facility. 

I^ft to himself, however, no man of science ever 
thinks of treating as virtually identical two objects 
having phenomena essentially diverse— diverse even 
in kind ; two objects of which the one is ponderable 
and not the other, one measurable and not the other, 
and one capable of being dissolved, reconstituted, 
or recombined, while the other is not capable of any 
of these processes. Two such objects might be 
" proximate," as blood and bones are, but to put upon 
that topical metaphor the meaning of scientifically 
alike is what no man of science would stand. Let 
us suppose the two objects in question to be a 
despatch just written by a minister of state and 
another he will write immediately. In the world 

HH 



468 . AGNOSTICISM. 



of realities the latter may be a factor much more 
important than the former. The former may have 
increased the pay of a Consul ; the latter may be 
the bringing on of a war. Now, the written despatch 
and the unwritten one are proximate objects ; but 
to physical science the difference between them is 
wide as that between the knowable and the un- 
knowable. The first has already come within the 
purview of observation ; the second has not, except 
the observation of the mind which has conceived it, 
and which already knows all about it, at least all 
that is essential. It is already an object of thought, 
but not yet an object of sense ; and it is not an object 
of thought to any mortal but the author of it : the 
subject and the object being one, which is not the 
" annihilation of both,'* but the activity of both. So 
long as the minister pleases, physical science is 
helpless as to analysing his despatch. It has neither 
atom nor molecule; is neither solid nor liquid, not 
even gas ; its measure, weight, and consistency are 
things non-existent ; it is to one man a perfectly 
known reality without bodily parts, and to all other 
men a reality absolutely unknowable. If in that 
state of things the man dies, it remains unknown 
and unknowable all their days to every one of those 
who lived while it also lived in the ministers 
imagination and intention. 
When he wills to produce it, he cannot do so by 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 469 

a word To give it a body he must employ materials 
produced by others, which they fashioned from 
material produced again by others, and so on till 
you come to material produced by a Hand Unseen, 
which no mortal could produce. Having once given 
to his thoughts a body, the minister can submit his 
despatch to physical science; but not till then. A 
true man of science will soon dismiss it ; the paper, 
the ink, the spaces, the curves, right lines, points, 
and dimensions are not much to investigate ; but 
the mongrel-metaphysician will argue that these are 
really all you can know, and that the despatch is 
" nothing but " so much paper, so much ink, so 
many lines, and so forth. Let them trifle to satiety : 
there is in the thing a silent force to shake two 
empires ; and that force is not visible to the eye 
of physical science, but visible at once to the eye 
of mind, so soon as mind has retranslated the scratches 
upon paper back into the statesman's thoughts. 

It will not be disputed that in their phenomena 
the two things — Mind and Matter — are more widely 
different from one another than any two forms of 
matter or any two modes of motion. No one will 
attempt to override phenomena who does not be- 
lieve that they are disguises, and that he by an inner 
light can tell better than they inform him. Few 
real men of science saunter in such gloaming. In 
Positivists it is utterly inconsistent to disregard 

HH2 



460 AGNOSTICISM. 



phenomena; but that is what they are compelled 
to do in order to treat of mind and matter on the 
same principles. In an Agnostic of Mr. Spencer's 
school, to disregard them is not inconsistent, but 
is the logical issue of the doctrine of illusion and 
disguise. So it is with a Pantheist proper. But 
whoever discredits the testimony of phenomena, be 
it by a doctrine teaching that they are illusive, or 
be it by practice assuming some such doctrine as 
proved, takes ground which would unsettle all the 
methods of physical science. Now, it is manifest 
that phenomena are not indices of reality, but are 
disguises indeed, if mind and matter are not two 
contrasting substances, incapable of being treated 
on one and the same principle. They differ in 
all aspects in which they are presented to us ; 
and the attempt to slur over that difference by 
such phrases as *' proximate activities," if adroit, is 
vain. Mr. Spencer has a sentence which might be 
stamped across page after page of his books, like 
the mark of an inquisitor sealing their invalidity : 
" Rational philosophy cannot ignore those broad 
distinctions which the general sense of mankind 
has established."' If this may be said as to the 
attempt to assimilate crystallized bodies with life, 
how much more strongly does it apply to the 
attempt to identify mind and matter ? 

» First Prin.y § 56. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 461 

That they are two, and that all experience and 
analogy point to the conclusion that matter is the 
work of mind and not mind the product of matter, 
we fearlessly assert ; feeling that every phenomenon 
within us and without us testifies that so it must be. 
Of the recognition of their distinctness in point of 
nature, even Mr. Spencer cannot free his sentences. 
Concluding his singular speculations on the "sub- 
stance of mind,'* he asks : " Can the oscillations of a 

^^^. molecule be represented in consciousness 
/// side by side with a nervous shock, and the 

Feeling, ^^ j^ recognized as one?" To me con- 
sciousness of the oscillations of a molecule and of a 
shock in nerves would be consciousness of the same 
thing, first in the general, and next in a particular 
case. This is said, of course, on the supposition that 
a •* nervous shock " means a shock in nerves. Should 
one be wrong, should it deliberately mean not a shock 
in nerves, but a state of mind ensuing upon con- 
sciousness that the nerves have been shocked, it 
would mean what differs from a nervous shock 
as much as in a collision at sea the shock in the 
hull of the ship differs from the shock in the mind 
of a passenger. 

How does Mr. Spencer answer his own question 
as to whether an oscillation of a molecule and a state 
of mind (which, to suit his psychology, he calls a 
nervous shock) can be recognized as one ? He says : 



462 AGNOSTICISM. 



'*No effort enables us to assimilate them" It is 
far stronger than saying, We cannot recognize them 
as one ; if we cannot even say that they are alike. 
The fact is, we cannot help assimilating an oscillation 
of a molecule and a shock of a nerve, if that had 
been what was meant. But note how the reasoning 
proceeds : " That a unit of feeling has nothing in 
common with a unit of motion, becomes more than 
ever manifest when we bring the two into juxta- 
position." Here we learn that a nervous shock and 
** a unit of feeling " are interchangeable terms. The 
question is, more suo, begged. It is assumed, and 
has been all along, that the mind of the passenger 
and the frame of the ship are identical. Yet if you 
shock every cord in the rigging ten times per second 
for a day, not one unit of feeling will result. The 
capacity of feeling must first be present, ere any 
shock, or anything will call feeling into play. Motion 
in a senseless substance is mere motion ; motion in 
an animated substance is motion that may either 
excite feeling or else express it 

Yet, though Mr. Spencer treats feeling simply 
as a shock in the nerves, he plainly says it is not 
motion. If the unit of feeling be what he calls it, 
a nervous shock, it is motion. But the inconsistency 
is pushed to the length of saying that the unit 
of feeling and the unit of motion have nothing in 
common. This merely represents the underlying 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 463 

facts of nature, which are thus pushed up in veins 
through Mr. Spencer's overlying theories. Feel- 
ing is something which begins after the nerves 
have had their shock, just as music begins after 
the chords of a piano have had theirs. Feeling of 
a sensation is something which sets a mind, even 
that of an animal, to look for a cause outside of 
its own body. That looking for a cause is instan- 
taneous, and is often instantaneously followed by 
perception of the cause, and by an emotion affecting 
that cause according as the feeling traced to it 
has been pleasurable or the reverse. A feeling 
and a motion are so different that, while a motion, 
no matter how infinitesimally slight or how tre- 
mendously forcible, can never originate feeling 
except by striking upon the organs pf a mind — 
cannot do it by impact on any other body in 
earth, or sea, or air, — a feeling, on the contrary, can 
originate motion, suspend it, keep it suspended, 
and launch it at a given moment after such 
suspense. "Nothing in common" — that goes too 
far. They have undoubtedly some things in 
common ; but if they had fifty, it would not alter 
the fact that as between themselves they are things 
essentially different, far more different than glass 
and gutta percha. 

After declaring feeling and motion to have nothing 
in common, Mr. Spencer glances at the essential 



464 AGNOSTICISM. 



point now before us, as to whether mind or matter 
is the superior, and which of them is the more likely 

Easier to *^ have precedence of the other and to be 
Think its author. Of course the question does 

thai All ts j^Q^^ ^Q j^jj^^ come in that form ; for with 

jAan that *^*"^ ** *^ rather assumed that, though 
All is feeling in the one and motion in the 
^' other have "nothing in common," they 
are in reality affections of one and the same sub- 
stance. He says : " Were we compelled to choose 
between the alternatives of translating mental 
phenomena into physical phenomena, or of trans- 
lating physical phenomena into mental phenomena, 
the latter alternative would seem the more accept- 
able of the two.'*' Who is to be the translator? 
Will crystals translate memory into some "physical 
phenomenon,'* or will tin translate the visions of 
Bunyan the tinker into metal ? " Translate " in 
such a case is a metaphor so inapplicable that the 
marvel is how physicists, instead of taking it up 
as if it meant something intelligible, should not 
let it alone as fancy playing truant in metaphysics. 
All translating is the act of a mind rendering into 
fresh symbols another act of mind. They who talk 
of telegraphs translating may excuse themselves, if 
mere pupils, by Mr. Spencer's us^e in this case 
and others ; but, if they speak as physicists, they 

' Prin. of Psjfchclogyt § 63. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE. 466 



talk unintelligible metaphors instead of stating 
facts. The telegraph no more translates than the 
operator transmits motion from shore to shore. It 
transmits motion, and that is all. The acme of 
imperception seems to be reached when an iron 
plate is spoken of as translating, as we have it 
when we are called to admire "the ability of a 
fttere iron plate [italics mine] to take up the com- 
plicated aerial vibrations produced by articulated 
speech, which, translated into multitudinous and 
varied electric pulses, are retranslated a thousand 
miles off by another electric plate, and again heard 
as articulate speech."^ The speaker by his will and 
at his will impresses motions on the air. These 
any animal ear interprets into sounds, any human 
ear into speech, while any ear of one knowing the 
language spoken translates them into words. An 
iron plate receives the motions from the air, modi- 
fies them and passes them to a wire, but in all the 
thousand miles is no interpretation and no trans- 
lation. The thousand miles traversed, there is no 
interpretation or translation, if nothing is there but 
a mere iron plate. It does as it cannot help doing — 
pulses with the pulsing of the wire, and transmits the 
pulsations to the air. If a human ear is at the spot, 
and human attention lent, then, and only then, are 
the pulsations translated into speech. Do physicists 



' Nineteenth Century^ No. 83, p. 10. 



466 AGNOSTICISM, 



mean to let metaphysics of this quality mar their 
noble pursuits ? 

You cannot put either memory or prevision into 
a material form, or even reach them by any material 
test As to " translating," say, the tides, or the 
seasons, or sunshine, or frost, into states of mind, 
all that can be meant v&, making them states of 
mind. The fancy of our being compelled to turn 
changes in matter into states of mind on the one 
hand, or states of mind into changes in matter 
on the other, is entertaining ; but that is all. 

What is meant by saying that one of these 
imaginary translations would be " more acceptable " 
than " the other, is made plain when two pages 
later we read : " Of the two it seems easier to trans- 
late so-called Matter into so-called Spirit, than to 
translate so-called Spirit into so-called Matter." 
The latter of the two, Mr. Spencer confesses to be 
** wholly impossible." Yet he shows how his own 
strange metaphor fills his " environment": " No trans- 
lation can carry us beyond our symbols." Here 
the idea of actually passing the same thoughts 
from one set of symbols into another is clearly 
dominant. When we pass this thought, "Matter 
is the product of Mind," from English into French, 
we are carried beyond our English symbols into 
an entirely new set, each word in the translation 
being different from that in the original. We leave 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 467 

our first set of symbols behind ; but they are none 
the worse, being as good in quantity and quality 
as they were before. The translation leaves the 
thought symbolized by them what it was, and leaves 
the symbols themselves what they were. All it does 
is to embody in a totally different set of symbols 
an exact reproduction of the thought. So all talk 
of turning so-called mind into so-called matter, or 
vice versdy under cover of such a metaphor as translat- 
ing, is mere fancy. 

Still, under this mere fancy lies the important 
admission that you cannot possibly " translate " mind 
into matter, and that '* it seems easier " to translate 
matter into mind, What compels this admission is, 
in plain English, that you cannot account for mind, 
either human or Divine, by matter, and that you can 
account for matter by a Divine Mind, just as you can 
account for numberless phenomena of matter by 
human mind, and for that human mind by the same 
Divine one. 

The Berkeleyan notion of matter being the crea- 
ture of human ideas, existing only as those ideas give 
it existence, is acceptable to many who are far from 
being Spiritualists, though they are Idealists, in some 
sort of way, like Stuart Mill, who says it makes no 
difference : everything goes on as if matter were real. 
If it does, it is because matter is real. But our point 
here is this : that a man who can conceive of the 



468 AGNOSTICISM. 



matter of earth, moon, sun, stars, and all the inter- 
spaces as being a creation of the human mind by 
mere ideal force, and who finds it difficult to believe 
in an Infinite Mind conceiving all these, in an 
Eternal Mind existing before any of these, in an 
Almighty Mind able to give being to all these, is a 
marvel of mental formation. That the ideas of a man 
should be capable of creating underfoot and overhead 
" permanent possibilities " of sensation, such as repre- 
sent a universe, and that the ideas of every separate 
man should be capable of creating that universe iden- 
tical in its features, and yet that the Mind of the 
Lord God Omnipotent should be unable to make 
anything except out of materials already pre-existing, 
might seem to be an exaggerated case of reductio 
ad absurdum. To me it is so : a greater stretch of 
intellectual inconsistency I can hardly conceive of. 
From this inconsistency Berkeley, of course, was 
free. To him, if matter was the creation of ideas, 
they were the operation of a mind, which was itself 
the creature of an Infinite Creator. 

Our present point as to this idealistic theory is 
chiefly this : that the conception of mind as creating 
matter is here preserved and reproduced, but lowered 
from that of a mind of Infinite Glories to that of a 
mind of circumscribed ability; and the conception 
of the act is lowered from an actual production to 
some shadow of production, a shadow, however, in- 



THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, 469 

volving an equivalent power and perfectly harmonious 
effect in the case of billions of minds liable to err. 
As it is confessed that self-existence must be recog- 
nized somewhere, we say it cannot in reason be 
recognized in matter, cannot in reason be recognized 
in human mind, but can in reason be recognized in 
a Divine Mind. Not only can it reasonably be there 
recognized, but, seeing that all things are explained 
by that supposition, and not by any other, reason is 
coerced to flee into the refuge of the ever-blessed 
Mind Eternal. 

We repeat : The supposition of an Eternal Nothing 
which produced both Mind and Matter, is un- 
believable and inconceivable. The supposition of 
Eternal Matter which produced mind, is unbelievable. 
The supposition of an Eternal Mind which produced 
both matter and finite minds, is conceivable and 
believable, accredited to reason by infinite weight of 
probability. 



470 AGNOSTICISM. 



CHAPTER VIIL 

MR. spencer's replacement OF GOD. 

I. — The Manner of Replacement. 

In a passage elicited by the attack upon him from the 
Positivists, Mr. Spencer clearly indicates the result as 
to faith and religion which he anticipates from his own 
labours and from " science." The importance of this 
utterance warrants its being italicised : " The gradual 
replacement of a Power allied to humanity in certain 
traitSy by a Power which we cannot say is thus allied, 
leaves unchanged certain of the sentiments comprehended 
under the name religious^ ^ That simply means that 
when the living God shall be replaced by the Absolute 
Unknowable, and when the religion of the Lord Jesus 
Christ shall vanish away, there will remain some of 
the feelings now called religious — say, somewhat of 
awe and of a sense of mystery in the presence of 
nature. This defines the faith and hope of the Ag- 
nostic, and is in perfect keeping with the whole tenor 
of Mr. Spencer's works. It is, however, the most 

' Ninttetnth Century^ No. 89, p. 25. 



REPLA CEMENT OF GOD. 47 1 



explicit statement I remember of his, so far emulating 
Comte as to aim at replacing the Almighty. 

It is no fault of Mr. Spencer if some have taken 
him for a kind of outside auxiliary to the Christian 
Misconception argument ; and if some have even gone so 

of His far as to insinuate that he veils over his 

ost ton, {^\x}^ in a Creator to save philosophical 
. consistency. His position throughout is consistent, 
and his manner frankness itself. Not a trace of 
" Reserve " can with any fairness be imputed to him. 
The misconception is, doubtless, owing in part to 
the wonderful language in which his critical passages 
are couched, those on the interpretation of which that 
of all the rest depends ; in part also to the fact 
that in him the animosity to the very idea of God 
often shown by Atheists, and conspicuous in Comte, 
is entirely absent, as is also the flippancy of other 
teachers of disbelief. In addition to this, the con- 
fessed victory on the field of morals which was ceded 
to the religion of Christ by Positivism is not less 
traceable in his writings, if less referred to. To 
crown all, in his conflict with Positivism, several of his 
positions are restated in a manner which, to ordinary 
men, supplied ample data for a Theistic conclusion — 
in fact, rendered it difficult for a mind, really free, to 
arrest itself short of such a conclusion. 

All this notwithstanding, the attack serenely 
opened upon all religion except his own remnant, in 



472 AGNOSTICISM, 



the paper Religion a Retrospect and a Prospect^ was 
resolutely and carefully calculated. So formidable, 
No Repentance indeed, did the portion of it bearing upon 
in Theism appear to Mr. Harrison that, 

Afr, spencer. ^ ^jjj ^^ remembered, he thought 

theology could hardly "rally for another bout." 
Theology with him means faith in God ; and that 
stubborn vitality, as it might be called by our dealers 
in abstractions, is, up to the present moment, much 
the better for the beating. As extremes meet, Mr. 
Harrison so far joined those Christians who fancied 
that Mr. Spencer was moving on their side as to speak 
of the joy over one philosopher repenting. But there 
was no repentance ; although there was unconscious 
yielding of ground, to such an extent as was fatal 
to Atheism, and even to Pantheism, a system more 
allied to his own, though the affinity is on the surface 
rather than in the depths. 

His drift was not open to misapprehension. One 
Power was to be replaced, and another to be in- 

augurated. The one to be replaced was 
Divine a Power allied to Humanity as to certain 
Attributes as traits ; and the one which was to take its 

place could not be said to possess any- 
such traits. A religion including a Faith, a system of 
worship, and a code of morals was to be replaced by 
" certain of the sentiments comprehended under the 
name religious." That was all, and that was everything. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 47S 

No room was left for doubt as to what were those 
attributes ascribed to God which were to disappear. 
In the sentence next to the one already quoted 
they are summed up thus : " Such human attributes 
as emotion, will, and intelligence." Thus Mr. Spencer 
shows that he imagines Theists to be people who 
think that the will of God is human will, His intel- 
ligence human intelligence, His feeling human feeling t 
But Theists are those who do not believe that God 
was made in the image of man, but that, on the 
contrary, man was made in the image of God. This 
being so, they could no more conceive of the attri- 
butes of their adorable Creator as human attributes 
than, on the other hand, they could conceive of those 
of a worm as human — nay, no more than they could 
conceive of human feeling, will, and thought as being 
divine. What they are not able to conceive is that the 
Universe is destitute of any Being at its head who is 
capable of thought, feeling, and action; or that in such 
a Being, Head and Origin of such a Universe, thought, 
feeling, and action are not high above those of 
man, and above his best conceptions of them, as the 
heavens are high above the earth. In the inability to 
form any such conceptions they arc confirmed with 
a tenfold confirmation by the ponderous labours of 
the Agnostic evolver and their spectral results. But 
when Christians find that even Agnostics speak of 
the Unknowable as a Power, they do not hold them 

1 1 



474 AGNOSTICISM, 



bound to count It a human power, merely on the 
ground that power is an attribute also of man. And 
when Agnostics speak of It as Energy, Christians do 
not hold them bound to reckon It as nervous energy, 
although they might claim some title to do so, owing 
to the large language about "the universal law of 
nervous action." Even when the Unknowable is 
called a Stream, Christians do not hold Agnostics 
bound to conceive of it as liquid, running on solids, 
and banked in by solids. 

When one is naive enough in faith to accept the 
idea that man's conception of God comes from 
ghosts, and ghosts' from dreams, which in turn come 
of indigestion; and to believe that the scientific 
representative of the primaeval man is to be found in 
those generations of the race furthest removed in 
time from our original progenitors, and in those tribes 
which are furthest removed in space from the original 
centres, he may well assume that men believing in 
an Infinite and Eternal Spirit, Maker, Preserver, Re- 
deemer and Judge of all, ascribe to Him the thoughts, 
and feeling, and will of weak human kind ; and he 
who so totally misreads the thoughts and faith of man, 
his fellow, may well open his campaign as one tran- 
quilly coming to see and conquer. 

In passing, we may say that, as to the ghost theory 
of Mr. Spencer, and his methods of sustaining that the 
origin of all religion is explained by it, Mr. Harrison 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD. 476 

slashes it to tatters, although, as a good Comtist, him- 
self hampered by the fundamental error of regarding 
the modem savage at the furthest point of the circum- 
ference as the type of the primaeval man at the centre 
— an error of which even our modern anthropologists 
are beginning to feel shy, and on which the argu- 
ments of Max Miiller, the Duke of Argyll, and others 
press with increasing weight. 

II. — His Relation to Pantheism, 

It is only the deprivation of thought, feeling, and 
action in the Unknowable that prevents one from 
ranking Mr. Spencer as a Pantheist Pantheism 
always has, somewhere in the background — asleep it 
may be, but given to periodical awaking — a Being 
who thinks, feels, and acts. Without such a feature 
it would not be entitled to be called Theism of any 
shade; and this is the very feature which is ostenta- 
tiously rejected by Mr. Spencer : here are the traits 
allied to humanity, " the human attributes." So he 
keeps the Pan and rejects the Tluos — rejects all that 
makes the difference between the living and the life- 
less. Life, even in the lowest animated forms, always 
includes power of thought, feeling, and action, just as 
in all organic forms it includes power of self-increase, 
self-adjustment, self-repair, and self-multiplication, 
given certain conditions in the surroundings. The 
last named attributes, tied down to union with a 

112 



476 AGNOSTICISM, 



material frame, are not mentionable in any connec- 
tion with such ideas as infinite, or eternal, or tran- 
scending sense. Therefore, whether it be vegetable 
life or animal life, the Unknowable cannot have it 
The highest attributes, the mental and spiritual, are 
those expressly marked out as being such that we 
cannot say it has any of them. So this mammoth 
lies all athwart the Universe, a log of lifeless infinity 
and mindless eternity, yet the fountain of all life and 
mind ; like Banquo, it begets Kings, but is not one. In 
thus excluding mind and spirit from his conception 
of the First Cause, the Agnostic goes down consider- 
ably below the Pantheist His system is not All-God, 
but All-force ; for in it the idea of Force replaces 
the ancient Fate, as lying behind worlds, men, mind, 
gods, and all things. These are but manifestations 
of it, but operations of it, and so forth, and every 
other conception of them is only illusory. Thus the 
Agnostic system is one suspended between proper 
materialism and true Pantheism. It is so far Retro* 
gressive Religion that it goes back to that of the 
Hindus, and, in point of the conception of the First 
Cause, goes down below it. 

While Mr. Spencer refuses to follow Pantheism 
in making man and all his attributes nothing but 
the operation of the divine nature and will, and for 
himself recognises no divine mind or will, he docs, 
instead of these, recognize a human conception of them. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 477 



to which conception no objective reality answers 
Lmver than any more than to that of Fairyland. Into 
Paniheum. ^hat curious conclusions " this drags him 
appears in the following : " The conception of a 
divine will derived from that of the human will, 
involves, like it, localization in space and time."' 
Theists do not conceive of a God localized in 
space, or limited in time : which probably they would 
do were the conception of God derived from that 
of man. 

A familiar idea of Mr. Spencer is that, in the Bible, 

the early conception of God is that of One who 
is a sort of man, from which conception progressive 

civilization files away the human elements, and brings 

into view those higher ones displayed in the later 

Scriptures. This is the reverse of what Arabs and 

Jews, following history, charge as against Christianity, 

affirming that by it are imported into the conception 

of God human elements unknown to the ancient 

Seers. Both Arab and Jew know that the first lines 

of Genesis express a conception of superhuman 

power and true Godhead never afterwards surpassed, 

and that this strain is taken up and sustained in all 

subsequent Scripture. The fact that the Most High 

can appear, can speak, can meet with man in a 

manner suited to every changing state of his, is, with 

them, no reason for localizing Him or reducing Him 

^ NituUenih Century^ No. 83, p. 7. 



478 AGNOSTICISM, 



to our scale. On the contrary, it is evidence that in 
Him all powers unite, and that to Him all places are 
nigh at hand. The Book of Job and the most 
ancient Psalms are before the world. On no rocks 
are any traces more distinct than are upon this 
poetry of the early dawn the traces of a Known God 
far above all human thought On the other hand, the 
Book of Revelation, the last in the Bible, and the 
Gospel of St. John, probably the latest writing 
in it, abound with human elements, the centre of 
them being the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

III. — The Negative and Positive Aspects of 

the Unknowable, 

It is hard to reconcile in Mr. Spencer's teaching 
the negative and positive aspects of the Ultimate 
Cause, as he prefers calling the First Cause. For 
that Cause is It, not He ; is no Person. In the 
second place. It has no traits that can be said 
to be allied with human ones. In the third place. It 
has no consciousness. In the fourth place, It does 
not design, but operates after the manner, say, of a 
growing bank of coral. In the fifth place. It is 
unknown, unknowable, inconceivable, inscrutable. 
Finally, It is an Omnipresent Power to which no 
attributes can be ascribed. 

No attributes, yet omnipresent ! No attributes, yet 
a Power I Here reason seems to have done. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 479 

Of this unascertained Something Mr. Harrison 
says that it is " impersonal, unconscious, unthink- 
ing, and unthinkable" ; while Sir James Stephen 
calls It a barren abstraction. Whatever else it is, 
it is neither God nor man. When Mr. Spencer 
is on his defence, his struggles to escape from the 
effect of these negations have no other result than 
that of working him into positions impossible to 
be held except on the ground of faith in a Living 
God. It is easy to retort on the Positivists, 
and show what a poor and ugly simulacrum is 
theirs. It is easy to turn off as inapplicable the 
remark of Sir James Stephen that the Unknowable 
is " like a gigantic soap-bubble, not burst but blown 
thinner and thinner, till it becomes absolutely im- 
perceptible." It is easy, in like manner, to treat as 
inapplicable Mr. Harrison's assertion that "to make 
a religion out of the Unknowable is far more ex- 
travagant than to make it out of the equator." 
But it is impossible to deny that anything smitten 
with all the above negations is placed beyond any 
possibility of being trusted, loved, or adored. 

As to making a religion out of the equator, it, 
too, on Agnostic principles, is unknowable. They 
tell me I crossed it four times, but never did I see a 
sign of it It " transcends sense." It is not visible, 
tangible, or audible. It is easy to show that in Mr. 
Spencer's sense, what he calls the true sense, it is 



480 AGNOSTICISM. 



inconceivable. So with the orbit of the earth ; it 
likewise transcends sense, but it is incapable of 
being made the object of a religion. 

It may seem incredible that the two terms " tran- 
scending perception " and " supernatural " should be 
held for synonymous. Mark the following: 
Transcends "Developing man has thoughts about 
Smst existences which he regards as usually 

»^'^pS7n4*U*Tut, , . , I'll • ••11 J ^ 

mtangible, maudible, mvisible ; and yet 
which he regards as operative upon him. What 
suggests this notion of agencies transcending per- 
ception ? How do these ideas concerning the super- 
natural evolve out of the natural?"^ Of course the 
procedure of begging the question is adopted here as 
elsewhere. The idea of the supernatural is evolved 
out of the natural, and there is no argument about 
it ! But our point is, that in the above passage the 
terms " being invisible " and " transcending percep- 
tion" are both treated as equivalent to "supernatural." 
Yet our ideas of agents transcending perception are 
often ideas of things perfectly natural. Such agents 
are all those which have not form and colour to render 
them visible, have not sound to render them audible, 
and have not resisting surface to make them tangible. 
What "developing man," say when in embryo, does 
or does not think, I cannot tell ; but developed 
man never does think that, merely because an object 

X Nimttenth Century^ No. 83, p. I. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 481 

is imperceptible, it is supernatural. He has thoughts 
about gravitation as a force which " is operative upon 
him," a force which, however, is more than usually — 
invariably — invisible, intangible, inaudible ; but he 
takes it to be a creature, filling its appointed place. 
He has thoughts about the earth's motion in its orbit 
as operative upon him, yet that motion is invisible, 
inaudible, intangible, but nevertheless natural In 
things physical, negation of perceptibility does not 
involve the negation of either force, or motion. In 
fact, it does not involve the negation of materiality. 
Confounding things perceptible through sense with 
all things natural is like confounding rocks with 
all matter; and confounding all things transcend- 
ing perception with things supernatural, is like 
confounding latent heat with ether. 

It is only a small part of the sum total of matter, 
force, and motion included in the Universe of which 
sense is meant to take knowledge. To sight, it 
is only the denser bodies that are manifested, and 
of them usually no more than the surface. Many 
of the great powers of the physical world do not 
ordinarily appear to any of the senses, but move 
in silence, leaving their existence and attributes to 
be traced out by reason. Of things perceptible 
through sense, one alone comes from afar — light ; 
and of its offices one of the most noteworthy is 
to make us aware of how small is that portion of 



482 AGNOSTICISM, 



the physical agents " operative upon us " which ever 
do appear to sense. 

Sensible effects of causes which are not sensible, 
visible effects of causes invisible, are among the 
earliest experiences of infancy and the 
Visible most frequently repeated experiences of 
^^^{g life. Like many others, Mr. Spencer 
Causes, assumes that our earliest ideas of force, 
our fundamental ones, are derived from 
our sense of the resistance offered by external 
bodies to our will. This is an experience which, 
in nature, comes later than the sense of pressure 
and constraint exerted upon us without or against 
our will by external forces, often unseen, sometimes 
invisible — pressure from hands unseen, from band- 
ages unseen ; contact of water unseen ; lifting and 
removal of the whole person by arms unseen, and 
many other forms of action upon us from centres 
of force, often either unseen or invisible. These 
are in infancy the constant experience of night and 
the frequent experience of day, and constitute our 
earliest lessons of force. 

As we grow up, every shower that falls is a visible 
effect of an invisible cause, and its force is not mem 
resistance to our effort, but a direct assault upon 
our person, from a centre of force totally independent 
of us. In this case succeeding time does not con- 
vert the invisible cause into a visible one ; as it does 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD. 488 

in respect of many of the resistless forces "operative 
upon us " in infancy. A visible effect of a visible 
cause is every hailstone, every cloud that sails across 
our sky, every wind that bends the trees, and every 
shooting star. When out of the brown earth spring 
the green blades, and out of the stalk the flowers 
blow, childhood learns from the visible effect to enquire 
after the invisible cause : " What makes the grass 
grow?" "What makes the buds come?" 

When nature hides an object from all the senses, 
that fact does not determine whether the object is hu- 
man, infra-human, or superhuman — not even whether 
it is corporeal or incorporeal. Yet it is not once but 
repeatedly that Mr. Spencer assumes "imperceptible" 
to be equivalent to "supernatural." "That which lies 
beyond the sphere of sense" ^ is an ordinary desig- 
nation for either his own Unknowable or our God. 
He varies this by the phrase "transcending percep- 
tion," which I understand to mean not lying beyond 
the sphere of perception, but passing from within 
it to beyond it. Ether we might say "lies beyond" 
the sphere of sense, sunlight transcends it Nature, 
for all an Agnostic sees, might never have given to us 
a lesson on the theme that we are not mere creatures 
of sense, but creatures to whom senses are only in- 
struments of communication between one and another, 
and instruments of observation on bodies without us, 

1 Nineteenth Century^ No. 93, p. 832. 



*84 AGNOSTICISM, 



by use of which the man within acquires data for 
reason to proceed upon. That, however, is a lesson 
which she begins over again every morning, and re- 
news every evening ; a lesson on which she solemnly 
insists in the dark and silent night ; one which she 
illuminates by the twinkling points which to feeble 
sense represent worlds. 

IV. — Positive Aspect of t/ie Unknowable, 

Viewed only upon the negative side, the Unknow- 
able would be merely an inconceivable variety of no- 
thingness ; but when viewed also on the positive side, 
it becomes an incredible whirl of contradictory some- 
things. Even Mr. Harrison tacitly admits that it is 
not all negation, calling it "a sort of a something 
about which we can know nothing." But, in fact, the 
Absolute Unknowable becomes the sum total of 
powers ever acting. It is "Infinite and Eternal Energy 
from which all things proceed." It is "the substratum 
at once of material and mental existence." It is the 
"Power manifested throughout the universe distin- 
guished as material, [and] is the same power which in 
ourselves wells up in the form of consciousness." It 
is "the ultimate Reality, the sole existence; all things 
present to consciousness being but shows of ft" It 
is "the All- Being," "the Ultimate Cause from which 
Humanity, individually and as a whole, in common 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 486 



with all other things, has proceeded." It is "the Un- 
known Cause of which the entire Cosmos is a mani- 
festation." It is "that great stream of Creative Power, 
unlimited in Space and Time, of which Humanity is 
a transitory product." It is "that Ultimate Existence 
of which it [humanity] is but one form out of multi- 
tudes — an Ultimate Existence which was manifested 
in infinitely-varied ways before Humanity arose, and 
will be manifested in infinitely-varied other ways when 
Humanity has ceased to be." 

No wonder that, reading all this, persons who 
have not been made cautious by familiarity with the 
subtleties of Pantheism, should say : Here all is said 
that need be said as the basis of faith in a per- 
sonal God. And when Pantheism proper has passed 
through the fining pots of European metaphysics, 
and has then been blended with the physical sciences, 
the amount of caution necessary in judging of what 
is meant by what seems to be said is not inconsider- 
able. One who has spent much time over writings of 
such an origin will scarcely be surprised at any com- 
bination of negatives and affirmatives, or at any 
blend of facts and hypotheses. In dealing with Mr, 
Spencer there is always one comfort : he emits his 
negations and affirmations as roundly as if each was 
self-adjusting, taking it for granted that they will 
assort themselves in the intellects of others as they 
have miraculously done in his own. 



486 AGNOSTICISM. 



One is permitted to pause before attempting to 

define Mr. Spencer's Unascertained Something, of 

Confusion of whose existence we are more certain 

Negations and than of any other existence ; his Power 

Affirmations, ^j^hout attributes; his Substratum of 

material existence on which only Nothingness rests ; 

his Substratum of mental existence, in ascribing to 

which such attributes as emotion, will, intelligence, 

we are using words which when thus applied have 

no corresponding ideas ; his Eternal Energy, from 

Att but s ^^^^^ ^'^ things proceed, and from which 

of the nothing is separate; his Phenomena, 

Unknowable, ^^^Y^ and all of which are Eternal 

Energy and yet are All-Nothingness; his Uncon- 
scious Agency, of which conscious humanity is a 
product; his Unconscious Substance, of which con- 
scious humanity is a form ; his Manifestations, when 
there is only a single substance to manifest and be 
manifested ; his Disguises, when there is only a 
single thing to disguise itself and be imposed upon ; 
his Creative Power, which does not act, think, or 
will, and yet stands to our general conception of 
things in substantially the same relation as docs 
the Creative Power asserted in theology; his Un- 
knowable, which is " a necessary datum of 
every thought," which "has among our beliefs 
the highest validity of any," which is " a moral 
deliverance of consciousness." 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 487 

Putting all these positives into juxtaposition with 
all the negatives, we arrive at only one perfectly clear 
idea, namely, that at everj^ moment, no matter how 
much accumulates to obscure it, the existence of an 
Eternal and Omnipotent Creator keeps cropping up 
through all. The feeling which in point of clear- 
ness comes next to this is that, on even the methods 
of making definitions which Mr. Spencer adopts, none 
can be made of this Thing. Taking its lowest term, 
it is Nothing; taking its highest term, it is Everything. 
If we attempt to draw a line from the one to the 
other and fix a point half-way, Mr. Spencer stops us 
short by showing that there is no half-way from No- 
thing to Anything ; that the distance between them 
is infinite. 

That is my feeling. Sir James Stephen says : 
" Mr. Spencer's conclusion appears to me to have no 
meaning at all. It is so abstract that it asserts 
nothing." It has a meaning, but, what with negative 
effacing positive, and with positive outfacing negative, 
the meaning results in an image of mud. Instead of the 
conclusion asserting nothing, it asserts almost every- 
thing, yea and nay, except the intelligible thing. If 
by assert Sir James means affirm — though it is hard 
to think of him as speaking as if the man who asserts. 
Not guilty, did not as much assert as if he said, Guilty 
— then it does affirm a great deal. But the reason 
given, that it does not assert anything because it is 



488 AGNOSTICISM, 



too abstract, is not valid. A concrete assertion asserts 
of only a single object, and may of it assert much or 
little. An abstract assertion asserts of a whole class 
of objects, and may assert what is much or little. 
For instance, if we say Mr. Justice Stephen is an 
entity in a wig, that is concrete, and cannot apply to 
any object on earth but one. If we say, an English 
judge is an entity in a wig, that is so far abstract that 
it does not denote any particular judge, but the whole 
class ; yet just as much is here asserted of every 
member of that class as was in the concrete case 
asserted of only a single member. The description 
given by Sir James Stephen of the method by 
which Mr. Spencer's creation of the Unknowable is 
^, _ , effected is exquisite, and applies just as 

Mr, Spenctrs 

Method well to his creations of beings in general 
of Making ^nd their organs : " He works his words 
about this way and that, he accounts with 
part for ghosts and dreams, and the residue thereof 
he maketh a God, and saith Aha, I am wise, I have 
seen the truth." The positive part of the structure is 
for Sir James, "nothing but a series of metaphors 
built upon one another, and ending where they 
began." 

Mr. Harrison, in sore distress on finding that 
the ground on which he had long firmly rested, 
"accepting Mr. Spencer's teaching," is beginning to 
heave with the hidden force of a Creator God, cries 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD. 48^ 

out: ''It comes to this: Mr. Spencer says to the 
Theologians, * I cannot allow you to speak of a First 
Cause, or a Creator, or an All- Being, or an Absolute 
Existence, because you mean something intelligible 
and conceivable by these terms, and I tell you that 
they stand for ideas that are unthinkable and incon- 
ceivable. But,' he adds, *I have a perfect right to talk 
of an Ultimate Cause and a Creative Power, and an 
Absolute Existence and an All-Being, because I mean 
nothing by these terms — at least, nothing that can be 
either thought of or conceived of, and I know that I 
am not talking of anything intelligible or conceivable. 
That is the faith of an Agnostic, which except a man 
believe faithfully he cannot be saved.'" The last 
phrase is as pure burlesque as when he says we 
might sooner think that we were reading in Alice in 
Wonderland than in a Synthetic Philosophy^ or as 
when he says that it is only " the slip-slop of the 
theologfians." ^ As to a man being saved, there is not 
for either Mr. Spencer or Mr. Harrison any man to 
be saved, only an animated machine which falls to 
pieces when the steam is blown off, and can never 
rejoice or sorrow any more. 

The earnestness with which Mr Harrison's charge 
of preaching the Creator is combated throws light on 
the real position of our philosopher. He informs us 
that, where we now read the words " from which all 
things proceed," he originally wrote "were created 

KK 



490 AGNOSTICISM, 



and sustained." This he erased, " because the ideas 

associated with these words might mislead." Words 

-,, are prone to associate themselves with 

Written and their ordinary meanings. Mr, Spencer 

Erased, g^jjj f^^jg ^j^^^^ ^^ words in question 

would not have exceeded his thought " in the sense I 
used them," which was, of course, a private sense. 
He complains that Mr. Harrison misrepresented him, 
which he no doubt did ; but because Mr. Spencer's 
language beguiled him. " The Inscrutable Existence 
manifested through phenomena stands towards our 
general conception of things in substantially the same 
relation as does the creative power asserted in theo- 
logy." I Used in English, these words are as clear as 
day, and any one would cry, This is the Creator ; but, 
used in a sense private to an individual, what they 
might mean who could tell ? " Substantially the same" 
is an expression that leaves room only for differences 
of form, not of substance ; and a man's thoughts have 
already acquired an inveterate habit of " working his 
words this way and that " before he could think in 
such words when he really meant "essentially 
different." Any one who, on the strength of these 
words, had averred that Mr. Spencer renounced the 
struggle against "theology," and tacitly requested 
leave to bury his dead, would have had much excuse. 
On the contrary, any one who, in the face of the same 

^Nineteenth Centufy^ No. 93, p. 832. 






REPLACEMENT OF GOD. 491 

words, had said : He does not mean Theism, but 
something below Pantheism, would have passed for 
unreasonably suspicious. 

He is careful, however, to show that what he did 
mean was that He feels aggrieved at the imputa- 
tion of belief in a Creator. He tells why he erased 
the misleading phrase, and I italicize his explanation : 
because it might suggest the ordinary idea of a creating 
power separate from the created thing. No doubt it 
might. The words, however much they had been 
" worked about," were, after all, created things sep- 
arate from the creating mind, and carried their own 
character with them. Their nature was to suggest the 
ordinary idea, and that was what they would do. But 
the fact that in the writer's mind there had been no 
thing ever created, no existence " apart " from the 
All-Being, no " product '* which was anything but the 
producer in a given form, no " proceeding" which ever 
passed out of the centre of that whence it proceeded ; 
the fact that not anything in earth below or heaven 
above could say to anything else : ** Thou hast made us 
and not we ourselves"; the fact that in his mind all 
things could say to all other things, if they only knew 
it: " You and we are not different, but one," rendered to 
him such words uncandid ; and, exquisitely odd as is 
Mr. Spencer's dialect, when he does not speak plain 
English, want of candour seems foreign to him. 

Mr. Harrison is clear that he does not misunderstand 

KK 2 



492 AGNOSTICISM. 



Mr. Spencer ; but he takes the Unknowable to be 
tantamount to nothing ; whereas clearly it is the 
Knowable which is tantamount to nothing, and the 
Unknowable that is tantamount to everything. Mr. 
Spencer's language had misled the Comtists as much 
as it had misled unskilled Christians ; but the Comtists 
had not the excuse of being ignorant of how language 
could be " worked about this way and that" They, 
however, had clearly supposed that Spencer's Un- 
knowable was their own Inaccessible under another 
name. Quoting the expression, "We are not per- 
mitted to know — nay, we are not even permitted to 
conceive — that Reality which is behind the veil of 
Appearance," Mr. Harrison naturally adds: "Quite 
so ! on that ground we long rested firmly, accepting 
Mr. Spencer's teaching."^ Yet Mr. Spencer never said 
that what was behind the veil was a chimera, but had 
always said that it was a Reality. Then came the 
discovery that, in proportion as Mr. Spencer attempted 
to compress his iridescent mists into tangible forms, the 
irrepressible verities of Theism oozed out everywhere 
and covered all with an imperishable enamel. He 
himself did not see it ; he was " an external agency." 
But both Atheist and Theist saw it readily. To the 
Atheist the disillusion was bitter. Even after it, Mr 
Harrison hugs the idea that Mr. Spencer did long ago 
" finally " tear up poor theology. Yet this is the strain 

xNineiunth CtrUHry, No. 91 , p. 358. 



REPLACEMEN7 OB GOD, 498 

in which he commemorates the backward movement 
of Mr. Spencer from the borders of Atheism to the 
ground that lies only outside of the City of God : 

'* Forced, as it seems, to clothe the nakedness of the Un- 
knowable with some shreds of sentiment, Mr. Spencer has 
given it a positive character, which for every step it advances 
towards Religion recedes from sound Philosophy. The Un- 
knowable was at first spoken of as an ' unthinkable abstrac- 
tion,' and so undoubtedly it is. But it finally emerges as 
the Ultimate Reality, the Ultimate Cause, the All- Being, the 
Absolute Power, the Unknown Cause, the Inscrutable Exist- 
ence, the Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things 
proceed, the Creative Power, *the Infinite and Eternal 
Energy, by which all things are created and sustained.' It 
is ' to stand in substantially the same relation towards our 
general conception of things as does the Creative Power 
asserted by Theology.' 'It stands towards the Universe, 
and towards ourselves, in the same relation as an anthropo- 
morphic Creator was supposed to stand, bears a like relation 
with it, not only to human thought but to human feeling.* 
In other words, the Unknowable is the Creator ; subject to 
this, that we cannot assert or deny that he, she, or it, is 
Person or Being, or can feel, think, or act, or do anything 
else that we can either know or imagine, or is such that we 
can ascribe to Him, Her, or It anything whatever within 
the realm of consciousness.'* 

V. — A Self-Evolved Universe^ the Agnostic Idea, 

The last sentence shows that the cry. The Unknow- 
able is the Creator, though easily accounted for, was 



494 AGNOSTICISM, 



premature. It shows that, in spite of all the affirma- 
tives to which his reason had forced him, Mr. Spencer 
still clung to the negations he had set out to make 
good. The true idea of creation — production hy fiat 
— is not to be found in the synthetic philosophy ; and 
the true idea of ,a Creator — one who produces by fiat 
— is far above out of sight A self-evolved universe is 
the theory of Mr. Spencer. I do not remember a 
passage pointing out wherein that differs from a self- 
created one ; the idea of which is for him inconceiv- 
able. An illustration, which he thinks helps us to 
conceive of a self-evolved one, is that of mist forming 
in a clear sky. He never intimates what he may 
mean by such a mist being j^^evolved. The mist 
presupposes the existence of water, air, and heat, not 
to speak of other things. It presupposes the con- 
current action of all these — that is, of at least two 
different worlds, sun and earth. The vapour which 
was invisible before it condensed into mist had 
not made ice, had not made heat to turn ice 
into water, had not made more heat to turn water 
into steam, had not made air to carry steam aloft» 
had not made more heat to turn steam into invisible 
vapour. So far from the mist being self-evolved, it 
was the result of a change effected by sundry agents 
external to itself It was one step in the return 
process from imperceptible vapour to ice : first steam, 
next water, next ice. Neither the expanding nor the 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 495 



condensing side of the process depended on the thing 
itself. What is self-evolved must find within itself 
the impulses, the agents, and the materials of its 
evolution. If the spider could work in a vacuum 
and beyond the reach of gravitation or heat, we 
might look on him and his web as a fair example 
of self-evolution. A self-evolved universe is simply 
another form of the self-existence of matter. Thus 
we return to the old point in the circle — Given matter, 
force, and motion, then we begin. 

Now, who gives these three finites ? We have seen 
that finite things cannot be self-originated. But, so 

Who Gives ^^^ ^^ ^ remember, among points not 
Matter, Force, raised in Spencer are the questions : Did 
oum ^ finite thing ever "give" itself? being 
given, did it ever sustain itself, independently of 
other things ? and did it ever evolve itself without 
the ' aid and contribution of several things ? As, in 
Mr. Spencer, the word evolution means a process of 
condensation, one is ready to ask, Which side of the 
alternating process in the case of water is the evolving 
one, — that by which it passes from invisible vapour 
downwards to steam, from steam to water, and from 
water to ice, or that by which it passes from ice 
upwards to water, from water to steam, and from 
steam to invisible vapour? Apparently the down- 
ward process is Mr. Spencer's evolution.' Yet I do 

< *< EvolatioD, then, is in all cases a change from a more diffused or 



496 * AGNOSTICISM, 



not know where the invisible vapour came from if 
not from ice If evolution consists in an " integration 
of matter with a concomitant dissipation of motion," 
it is a process observable when elderly men grow 
stout. If dissolution consists in the " integration of 
motion and dissipation of matter/' it is a process 
observable when young athletes are training. But 
I must not be tempted into following Mr. Spencer 
into his scheme of evolution. It is not an integral 

ft 

part of his Agnosticism or Religion, but a related 
aspect of his cosmic philosophy.' 

VI. — Relations of Positivism^ Pantheism^ and 

Agnosticism, 

The Positivist and the Agnostic theory of the uni- 
verse seem, on the final analysis, to yield the same 
result — eternal matter in motion. For the matter, 
or the motion, or the force which sets the matter 

incoherent form, to a more coherent or consolidated form.*' First 
Prin.t } 56. This does not agree with what is said in an earlier and 
equally categorical description : *'That in which Evolution essentially 
consists, is the transformation of the homogeneous into the hetero- 
geneous." First Prin. { 52. Homogeneous means of one substance, 
unless when we distinctly speak of forms ; heterogeneous of different 
substances. The one definition makes Evolution condensation ; the 
other makes it the addition of new substances. If it be said that 
^*- transfoTf nation of the homogeneous*' means changing a single 
form into several, the language is too loose for criticism. Where only 
a change of form is meant, transformation is the word. Where a 
change of kind, it is not the word ; and the mixing of contradictory 
terms renders clear sense impossible. 

' Mr. Malcolm Guthrie, whose work I had not read till this book 
was already in the printer's hand, has with care, and great ability, 
treated of Mr. Spencer's Evolution apart ; a very useful course. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 497 

in motion, no cause is assigned by Positivism. By 
Agnosticism they are dealt with as themselves the 
Ultimate Cause, but only in such a sense as all things 
are. Over either of these two systems the intellectual 
superiority of Pantheism is vast It postulates a 
Person capable of evolving himself into all forms. 
The other systems are like a science of geometry 
commencing with problems, without axiom or defini- 
tion. In contrast with Pantheism, their postulates are 
surreptitious, and wholly inadequate to the super- 
structure. Both the systems are not only retrogres- 
sive religion^ but downward^ the conceptions being 
distinctly lower. Mr. Spencer shows that Positivism 
as a religion contradicts Comte's principle of a 
progressive advance of man, being itself the reverse 
of an advance. This argument returns upon Agnos- 
ticism with full force. Instead of being an evolution 
from indefinite to definite, it is a dissolution into the 
most indefinite conception ever put into print under 
any serious pretence. Instead of an evolution from 
homogeneous to heterogeneous, it goes back from a 
heterogeneous universe, composed of Creator and 
creature, to what is, in very truth, homogeneous, — 
more than that, identical, and, withal, indefinite and 
incoherent In fact, in pondering over the question 
what could be properly described, in the language 
of the famous formula, nothing comes to mind so 
nearly answering to it as the Agnostic conception 



498 AGNOSTICISM. 



of the Unknowable and its cosmos — "an indefinite, 
incoherent homogeneity." 

All the three systems have as a common feature 

the exclusion of that relation on which all morals 

. «. rest, that of a Creature to a Creator. In 

How the Three * 

Systems none of them has matter been produced, 
respectively ^nd held to rule by a designing maker. 

Unify Nature. . -^ i_ 

and m none has a nnite spirit been 
produced, and held subject to laws. In all the three 
differences are confined to forms, and all substances 
are either explicitly or implicitly one. In all the 
three, nature is unified by the annihilation of free 
agents, and the reign of sheer necessity. Ancient 
Fate and the modern Necessity may for practical 
purposes be taken as one; and thus Paganism, 
Atheism, and Agnosticism all unify on the principle 
of One Force ; Pantheism, on the principle of One 
Being; Absolute Predestinarianism, on the principle 
of One Will; the Bible, on the principle of One 
Maker, One Preserver, One Supreme Ruler, One 
Universal Arbiter and Judge. 

The systems which do not recognize as real the 
relation of creature and Creator all have one point 
at which they coincide and run into one. That is 
the point where right and wrong touch. They all 
concur in obliterating the dividing line between those 
two. Whether it is Pantheism, Atheism, or Agfnos- 
ticism, actions are held, in spite of appearances, to be 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 499 



first, links in a chain of necessity which cannot be 

broken, and secondly, operations, manifestations, or 

Agreement some kind of display of one and the same 

of the Three power. By as much higher as Pantheism 

Systems in . , , , . .111 

Equaiixing '^ above the other two, m an mtellectual 
night and point of view, by so much higher is the 
^^^' sanction it gives to every action indif- 
ferently. According to it, actions right and wrong, if 
indeed necessitated, are not so by some blind force or 
inconceivable necessity, but every being is the same 
being, every disposition his disposition, every desire 
his desire, every volition his volition, every deed his 
deed ; and hence all dispositions, volitions, and acts 
are not merely inevitable for individuals ; they are 
divine. This is the apotheosis of right, and the con- 
current apotheosis of wrong. 

Positivism, conceiving of all things as existing 
without a cause, and at the same time conceiving of 
all actions as evolving themselves under inviolable 
rule, and therefore in invariable order, presents each 
of them as equally below the reach of proper law, 
under the fetters of necessity, but also under its 
shield. No deed is a breach of order; and thus is 
furnished a perfect theoretic acquittal for any action 
whatever. But it is only an acquittal, not an 
apotheosis. Again, Agnosticism, which takes from 
Pantheism the idea of one all-constituting and all- 
performing substance, takes also from materialism 



600 AGNOSTICISM, 



the idea of excluding from that substance thought, 
feeling, and will, and so makes action, wherever it 
occurs, not the predestinated fulfilment of a divine 
purpose, but the inevitable operation of an all-com- 
pelling, unconscious cause. Hence, it restores to 
wrong the complete justification afforded by Atheism, 
but does not give to it the apotheosis of Pantheism. 
The last alone lights up all deeds done with the 
conscious glory of a divine origin. In that respect 
Absolute Predestinarianism comes nearer to it than 
either Atheism or Agnosticism. 

Viewed in its relation to morals, Pantheism might 

at first sight appear to be the most thorough 

Happy '^ ^^^ destruction of all moral foundations ; 

Inconsistency but it is happy in its inconsistenc>'. 

in Pantheism, ^^ ^* m. t »^ \*t 

It reserves a contmgent future life, 
making the prospect of it, however, a prospect of 
pains and penalties. The good man may, it holds, 
pass from the body into interminable exemption from 
pain or penalty, but by cessation of separate exist- 
ence, or, rather, of the illusion which he has held to be 
sucL It thus avoids the idea of the extinction of a 
spirit, an idea which seems as difKcult to us as 
that of the annihilation of matter. Instead of blank 
extinction. Pantheism provides absorption in the 
Divine whole, and consequently some ideal emerging 
into a higher rather than sinking into a lower 
nothingness. This doctrine holds over actions an 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 601 

authority, a judge, and a set of terminable penal- 
ties. It is utterly subversive of the fundamental 
Pantheistic notion of identity, but it is so much 
nearer than it to what consciousness proclaims, and 
observation verifies, that it comes closer home to man. 
That pale reflex of proper Pantheism which passes 
in Europe seems to drop out the future life, the 
transmigrations, the possibility that the 

European t_ i • ^ i . 

Pantheism, swme-man may be made mto a real swme, 
and may hereafter be the scorn of those 
he now injures. Hence it takes off from wrong- 
doing the one hideous pall with which proper 
Pantheism clothes it as a deterrent. For this loss, 
the surrounding atmosphere, charged with the prin- 
ciples of Christian moral law, imposes upon its fol- 
lowers an unconscious compensation — a compensation 
which would be lost in a few ages if the Christian 
foundations of moral law were abandoned. 

As to the future life, of course both Positivism 
and Agnosticism altogether shut it out of view- 
Man advances to the absolute end of all that can 

o . . affect his lot. The foundation thus laid for 

Basu for 

Morals moral law is obvious at a glance. He who 
offered by j^ ^^^^ secure that he shall not have to 

Postttvtsm 

and give any account for his actions is he 
AgnasHcism, ^j^q YidJ& made himself superior to all law, 
sole judge of rights, and who in taking this man's 
daughter, that man's wife, and the other man's blood, 



602 AGNOSTICISM, 



sinning, as he does, against no authority over him 
on earth, sins agaihst none above, and can never 
in any such case say : "Against Thee, Thee only have 
I sinned." Still, even he may have to reckon with 
some red hand. The only absolutely perfect security 
against giving any account would, therefore, be the 
reward exclusively of him who should succeed in 
destroying every man, woman, and child, and 
surviving as the fittest. 



VI L — Relation of Pantheism to Atheism, 

A word or two as to the relation of Pantheism 
to Atheism may help to clear the general con- 
ception. Not a few competent thinkers regard 
Pantheism as only a variety of Atheism, and the 
reasons for this view are plausible. Nevertheless, 
it is rather a case of extremes meeting than of 
identity. It is with Mind that Pantheism begins, 
and with a Mind of unlimited powers. This Mind, 
by its own internal activity, evolves thoughts, 
acts, forms, motions, colours, all which are but 
itself in operation. Thus, every effect is assigned 
to an adequate cause, and every power traced to 
an adequate centre of force. In doing this, how- 
ever, creation is merged in the Creator. 

In contrast to this, it is with Matter that Atheism 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 603 

begins, and matter it endows with powers practically 
infinite, however confronted by evidence that the 
thing itself is finite. To it Atheism either traces 
the design of the universe, or denies any design. 
As it cannot deny thought and design to man, it 
somehow assigns to matter all the Mind displayed 
in his researches and productions, or to some sound- 
ing vacuum covered with a film of words. Of 
course, in such a case it is not really in the vacuum 
that the sound is, but in the cover. It merges the 
Creator in the creation ; the cause in the effect, 
showing, as has been said, its intellectual inferiority 
to Pantheism. 

The case is not in any wise altered when mind 
and matter are conceived of as one apd the same 
substance. As we have already seen, both systems 
concur in annulling the foundations for a true dis- 
tinction between right and wrong. Their moral 
precepts are arches over an abyss, and without any 
keystone. Atheism has no Higher Being to whom 
man may give account ; Pantheism has no Lower 
Being from whom an account may be exacted. 
The Atheist looks out* upon a Universe without a 
moral Head ; the Pantheist looks out upon a Humanity 
without a moral reckoning. 

Now, as to the relation of Agnosticism to both 
of these systems, it so far meets Atheism as to 
leave the Universe without a moral head, and so 



fi04 AGNOSTICISM. 



far Pantheism as to leave Humanity without any- 
moral reckoning. The difficulty of saying that 
the Universe is self-created it evades by calling 
it self-evolved ; and, the difficulty of allowing man 
to say, I am the Creator, it escapes by holding 
that there is no personal God capable of saying 
either, I Am, or Be Thou ! The Absolute Unknown 
is something, and, whatever that something may be, 
the same in substance is man, a " form " of it. 

Agnosticism distinguishes itself by having no true 
God at the head of the Universe, and no true 
Humanity here below. Looking up, we have a 
mere bulk of "indefinite, incoherent, homc^eneity"; 
looking around on man and nature, we have a 
mere Vanity Fair of disguises. Man is full of 
consciousness, of thought, feeling, and will ; pro- 
lific of inventions, projects, philosophies ; but the 
Substratum of his mental being has none of these, 
and never was Wise, or Just, or Good. Man as a 
body is little, and must look up. Man as a spirit 
is alone. Down he may look on the mind of animals, 
and there find mental kindred in a small d^ree; 
upwards he cannot look. Loftier spirit, kindred to 
his spirit, there is none; the cry of desolation 
wrung from the Indian chief by the loss of all his 
tribe is the fitting expression (if we change the 
terms of flesh to those of spirit) of the state of the 
friendless waif that floats on the surface of one world, 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 605 

and in sight of others : To me nor relative 
nor blood remains — no, not a kindred drop. 

Rigorously applied, the principles of Agnosticism 
would paralyse scientific research, by undermining 

Logical confidence in the reality of knowledge. 

Result of They would paralyse intellectual specula- 
tion, by the feeling that things objective 
being illusory, subjective states must be illusions, 
and consciousness only an organized series of such 
illusions. They would paralyse moral principle, 
and that by two processes, the one a belief that 
desires and actions are necessitated parts of a 
resistless process, and the other a disbelief in an 
all -observing God and an all-searching account. 
But, happily, it is impossible that its principles 
should be in practice rigorously applied : they 
are too repugnant to consciousness on the one 
hand, and too much conflict with observation on 
the other. They are too clearly incapable of 
sustaining any fruitful process, even that of writ- 
ing a book. They are compelled to borrow help 
in every attempt at action. Just as Pantheism has 
to resort to rewards and punishments after death, 
so has Agnosticism to confess to them here below. 
As Pantheism, in spite of all its dogmas, assumes 
that things are things and persons persons, and 
that in actions lies a difference of moral value^ 
so Agnosticism, in spite of its principles, has to 

L L 



506 AGNOSTICISM, 



assume the truthfulness of what it pronounces to be 
mere disguise, has to think the thoughts it stigma- 
tizes as unthinkable, and has to seek its progress 
by that antagonism of conflicting wills which on its 
principles could never arise. 

VI I L — Affirmations of Agnosticism. 

The worst of the matter is that, seeing it cannot 
in practice apply its negations, Agnosticism does 
not accept the consequence of its affirmations. 
Taken as they stand, those affirmations suffice to 
compel a consequential thinker to say : " I believe 
in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven 
and eartL" These affirmations give to us a cer- 
titude of the existence of a Universal Cause, called 
the Ultimate Cause. This certitude is affirmed 
to be the highest of all our certitudes, so transcend- 
ently the highest that, " being a necessary datum in 
every thought, belief in its existence has among our 
beliefs the highest validity of any."' Of what, then, 
are we certified by this highest of all our certainties ? 

We are certified first of all of a Cause, so that 
nothing which had a beginning did begin uncaused. 

Confessed Now, is it more rational to conceive of 

Certainties, ^j^js Cause of all as foreknowing effects, 
or as incapable of foresight ? We are certified of a 
substratum of both material and mental existence : 

* Nineteenth Century^ No. 89, p. 6. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD. «07 

is it more reasonable to regard this as being itself 
the highest Mind, or as being a thing destitute of 
Mind ? We are certified of a Power which in 
external nature manifests itself as matter, and in 
man as consciousness : is it more reasonable to 
regard this power as conscious or as unconscious? 
We are certified of an Ultimate Reality of which 
all things present to consciousness are but shows : is 
it more reasonable to regard that which makes 
the shows, and by hypothesis makes also the con- 
sciousness, as an intelligent being or an unintelligent 
thing? We are certified that all things proceed 
from one Creative Power : is it more reasonable to 
conceive of that Power as destitute of the attributes, 
one and all, displayed in beings which proceed from 
it, or to conceive of it as comprising in itself all 
possible attributes and powers ? Again, we are 
certified that of this Creative Power, Humanity is a 
product : is it more reasonable to conceive of this source 
of finite thought and mind, as being itself something 
like a mindless coral reef, or as being an Infinite and 
Eternal Spirit, in whom lie all the treasures of 
wisdom and knowledge ? 

A hint of Mr. Spencer which was long ago alluded 
to, one which he always forgets in his practical 
workings, has been recalled by him in the recent 
controversy. It suffices to bar, for him, the way 
downward from man to anything below him. Not 

LL 2 



608 AGNOSTICISM. 



between personality, intelligence and something lower 

A Higher '^*®^» ^^ "^^ holds, the alternative, -but be- 

than a tween them and some mode of being higher. 

^^^' With him personality implies a material 

body, and intelligence is I know not what ; for, seeing 

that its unit is a nervous shock and its whole the 

^ggi'cg^te of such units, I must own to a total failure 

in all attempts to deduce from his elaborations 

wherewithal to form an idea of what an idea may be. 

However, I assume that a person is not less than an 

intelligent agent, and that intelligence is not less than 

the human understanding. 

Surely Mr. Spencer's principles do not require him 
to fix anything lower than this. Such being the case, 
when to his Infinite and Eternal Energy, his Creative 
Power, his Ultimate Cause, his Substratum of material 
and mental existence, he adds, as he is bound to add, 
some "mode of being" higher than that of a person, 
higher than that of the human intelligence, in pres- 
ence of what does he stand? of Eternal Power and 
Godhead, or of Eternal Power without Godhead ? of 
Creative Power in a Creator, or of Creative Power 
and no Creator? of an Ultimate Cause and effects 
following a world-plan, or of an Ultimate Cause and 
effects following no plan ? of a material and mental 
Substratum which is the Preserver of the body and 
Saviour of the soul, or of a material and mental 
Substratum that neither preserves the one nor saves 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD, 609 



the Other; only "sustains" them, as the underlying 
rocks sustain the coal measures ? 

Mr. Spencer has one phrase over which it is well 
to pause. The certitude of the existence of the 
A ''Moral Ultimate Reality is, he avers, "a moral 
^^ deliverance of consciousness. I do not 

Cmscioustuss:' pretend to know the writer's shade of 
meaning. It reads like one of the expressions which 
we ordinary people are liable to "find under our pen," 
and do not like to part with ; but one takes it for 
granted that great philosophers are not liable to such 
sometimes happy windfalls. It seems to express a 
natural human consciousness of the existence of the 
Ultimate Reality, and to express it more strongly 
than even Dr. McCosh would express any natural 
consciousness of God. But the peculiar shade in the 
phrase is this, that the deliverance of consciousness 
which affirms the existence of the Ultimate Reality 
is a moral deliverance. That seems to say, there is 
in the nature of man a moral necessity for affirming 
such a centre, such a basis, such a vertebral column 
to the system of nature. Without it, or denying it, 
the inner man would feel an "aching void," and 
right and fitness would seem contemned. But if the 
moral consciousness affirms a backbone to the frame, 
or a nave to the wheel, or a basis to the column, does 
it not more clearly still affirm as meet and right a 
Head, an all-knowing Head, to these manifold worlds ? 



610 AGNOSTICISM, 



Surely a " moral deliverance " of consciousness, when 
made as to the existence of anything, cannot be 
made as to the existence of some sort of a thing, 
destitute itself of any moral quality or value. 

It is superfluous to say that, when one declares that 
he does not believe in a personal God, he uses terms 
as unintelligible as if he were to say that he does not 
believe in a personal man. What definition of a God 
is it possible to give which does not mean a person — 
an intelligent agent ? A bodily frame no more con- 
stitutes a proper part of our conception of a person 
than does a lamp constitute a part of our conception 
of light 

So far, then, as regards the proposed substitute for 
God our personal God, for the Father, Redeemer 

neUher ^nd Friend whom we love and adore, it is 

Replaced 

„^ evident that what has resulted from Mr. 
Displaced, Spencer's prodigious toil has not been " the 
gradual replacement of a power allied to Humanity 
in certain traits, by a power which we cannot say is 
thus allied." Instead of having commenced a replace- 
ment, he has not effected the least displacement On 
the contrary, the result of his exertions has been, as 
the Positivists resentfully complain, the reaffirmation, 
one by one, of many things which the Holy Scriptures 
assert about the Almighty, attribute after attribute 
being assigned to the Ultimate Reality^, of which 
attributes many are allied to those pertaining to man. 



REPLACEMENT OF GOD. 611 

and allied in such a manner as they would be if the 
Ultimate Reality were a Living and True God and 
man an immortal spirit bom in His image. 

So much for the purposed replacement of the All- 
Blessed object of our religion ; it only remains to 
consider the substitute proposed for that religion 
itself 



612 AGNOSTICISM. 



CHAPTER IX. 

MR. spencer's substitute FOR CHRISTIANITY. 

I. — Religion Confessed to be Indestructible, 

Mr. Spencer's substitute for the religion of the Lord 
Jesus Christ is so shadowy, that I, at least, could 
never look upon it as seriously offered either as a 
religion or as an excuse for having none. Such con- 
sideration as one gave to it was given in deference to 
a high reputation and a wide influence, as well as to 
the fact that many regarded it as something real — 
indeed, considerable. This feeling of having to fight 
a non-reality is not weakened but strengthened by 
the fresh light afforded through the recent collision. 
As a mere phase in a very curious mental develop- 
ment, it is not a little interesting to find proceeding 
side by side in one and the same intellect two several 
processes, one affecting the Object of Religion, and 
reaffirming as to that object several essential attri- 
butes supposed to have been dispelled, never more 
to resume coherent shape; and the other process 
affecting religion itself, first minimizing it to mere 
vapours, and next chasing it through delicate shades 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 513 

of diminishing perceptibility to the point where it 
merges in the "infinite azure" of the All-Nothingness. 

As to the Existence of a Universal Cause, the 
more blows dealt upon Mr. Spencer from the Atheist 
side, the farther does he move from the Atheist posi- 
tion. As to religion itself, the more he approaches 
to some appearance of reality in the object of reli- 
gion, the more does he renounce every shadow of 
reality in its substance or practice. 

Even in the First Principles^ only one thing pre- 
vented one from concluding that religion in general 
was as completely given up as Christianity in particu- 

Religion Icir was formally dismissed; and that was 
Indestructible, ^^e writer's impression that he had dis- 
covered a reconciliation between science and religion. 
This was a recognition of religion as a power which 
must be treated with. That it is so is a fact too 
palpable for Mr. Spencer to deny, and he exhibits no 
disposition to deny it. He feels that, judging from 
past experience, religion is an inseparable concomitant 
of human nature ; and that religious thought and 
religious feeling always have exerted a dominant 
influence on the development of our race. While 
Comte first imagined that men had outgrown belief in 
the existence of God, and next proceeded to draw up 
for them a new religion suited to godless ages — 
seeing that some kind of religion human nature would 
have — Mr. Spencer reverses the process. 



614 AGNOSTICISM. 



He holds that men never will outgrow belief in an 
Infinite and Eternal Energy. He holds that, so far 
from dissipating that belief, science inlays the grain of 
our thoughts with it, and that in lines deeper set than 
ever. He, therefore, holds that men, while outgrowing 
belief in a Personal God, will be very curious about the 
Ultimate Cause, and somewhat awed before it: 
which two sentiments of curiosity and veneration will 
be the sum total of the religion of the latter day. 
Thus does it come to pass that Positivism, which is 
absolutely without God, yet has a religion which in 
both domestic and political relations is to swallow up 
all rule and authority in itself; while Agnosticism^ 
which at times seems to have an ail-but Divine 
Being, and really has at least the breathless body of 
an Infinite Power, has of religion only a ghost 

n. — No Love to God in Agnosticism, 

Just as Mr. Spencer enunciates, respecting the 
Unknowable, principles which ought to form the 
premises to the conclusion, ** I believe in God," with- 
out reaching any conclusion, so does he seem, without 
reaching a conclusion, to enunciate principles which 
ought to form the premises to the duplex law which 
comprises the substance of all religion : Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbour as thyself. 
To those, he writes, who accept the doctrine of evolu- 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 616 



tion, it will be obvious that, "if veneration and 
gratitude are due at all, they are due to that Ultimate 
Cause from which Humanity individually and as a 
whole, in common with all other things, has pro- 
ceeded." ^ Nothing is hypothetical here but " if ven- 
eration and gratitude are due at all." Yet the " if" 
is there. Whether they are or are not due, he declines 
to say, remarking that if you are an Optimist, you 
will say. Yea ; if a Pessimist, Nay. This is one of the 
numberless cases in which he thinks that he disposes 
of an objective fact, when all he does is to treat of a 
subjective state. Whether we be Optimists or Pessi- 
mists, is a question of our state of mind, not a ques- 
tion of what another does for us. We may on the 
same day, amid the selfsame facts, be Optimists first 
and Pessimists after, as Crabbe showed long ago, in 
his Lover's Ride, The Optimist may be grateful with- 
out cause ; the Pessimist thankless when he ought to 
be grateful. 

Let us suppose that we are neither Optimist nor 

Pessimist, but sober Christian men and women, to 

View of whom light is light and dark dark, sweet 

Christian sweet and bitter bitter : that is, people 

J^'. . who are not superlativists at all, only 

fwr comparativists. In that case, we receive at 

Pessimist, ^g Lord's hand good and also evil ; and 
thank and praise Hmfor the one; and, while sorrow- 

^NimteerUh Century^ No. 93, p. 22. 



516 AGNOSTICISM. 



ing under the other, we still say, Blessed be the name 
of the Lord. We do not think that everything which 
occurs is right; no more do we think that everything 
is wrong. We believe in sin and folly; and in bounty, 
patience, justice, and mercy. We believe in rewards 
and punishments, either of which words expresses an 
idea incompatible with absolute Optimism on the one 
hand and with absolute Pessimism on the other. For 
some things we praise men and animals, and for 
some we punish them. We believe that God does so 
with men and angels. We believe that whatsoever 
He does is wholly right, and whatsoever good He 
bestows on us is given notwithstanding our ill-desert 
We, therefore, hold ourselves bound in justice to 
praise Him, and hold that to refuse this is unjust 
and ungrateful, as well as unseemly. 

It is obvious, however, that the question whether 
gratitude is or is not due " somewhere " is not affected 
by our praising or repining. We say it is due — due in 
such proportions that our hearts burn within us when 
we ponder over all we owe. But if the good which 
lights upon our heads came to us only from a " where," 
we should never feel gratitude or veneration to a 
"where." These emotions are such as are kindled 
only by the conscious goodness of an intelligent being 
— sacred fires of the soul, never lighted except by the 
flash of a living eye. 

Of this Mr Spencer is not unaware. When reject- 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 617 



ing the claim of Comte's goddess, he argfues thus : 
Is there "Veneration and gratitude felt towards any 
Conscious being, implies belief in the conscious action 
^c^ Qf that being." No one will gainsay that 
Hence it is clear that the two happy 
emotions just named will never fire up for a "where," 
or a " somewhat," or a " stream," no matter what its 
power. " Conscious action of a being," when benefi- 
cent, does, in a being capable of gratitude, awaken 
those emotions. And when together with beneficent 
action are linked glorious attributes — Power and 
Wisdom, Justice and Mercy — then will veneration also 
spring up to further ennoble gratitude. 

It is no question as to how Pessimist and Optimist 
may feel, but wholly a question as to whether or not 
there is " Conscious action of a being " to render 
gratitude due, and whether that Being is such a One 
as to render veneration due also. For Mr. Spencer, 
alas! there is no such Action, because no such Being. 
On his showing, there is none for poor stray humanity. 
Our only hope of having the internal gloom relieved by 
some flicker of gratitude comes from the possibility of 
giving an optimistic cast to the scale, in our estimate 
of the relative sweet and bitter of life. But, just as 
gratitude can be felt only in a living heart, so can it 
be awakened only by the act of a living benefactor. 
It would be as easy to feel interest in conversing with 
a telephone without a person using it as to feel grati- 



618 AGNOSTICISM, 



tude towards units of motion, or shocks in nerves, or 
centres of force, or ganglia, or nebulae. Since in order 
to elicit veneration there must be superior worth, and 
to elicit gratitude there must be intentional benefaction, 
it follows that where neither love nor goodness exist 
on one side there can be no corresponding emotion on 
the other. In Mr. Spencer's religion there being no 
love of God to man, no living God capable of love, 
there is consequently no love of man to God. With- 
out this, whatever " rags of religion " may be left — 
whether rags as threadbare as those of Agnosticism, 
or rags as fantastically worked with devices as those 
of Positivism — they can never be a cover for a man to 
wrap himself in. 

By Positivism our emotions of veneration and 
gratitude are directed downwards, towards the better 
sort of our own race supplemented by the better sort 
of animals. By Agnosticism those emotions are 
frankly qlienched, seeing that there is no living God 
to love us or be loved by us in return ; and seeing 
also that, as to Humanity and its make-weight 
beasts, they are not fit to evoke eulogies, much less 
to receive adoration. On reviewing the elements of 
which the goddess of Positivism is made up, Mr. 
Spencer feels " an emotion nearer to contempt than 
to adoration." Yet he never seems to include the 
beasts who replace the worthless men. His own 
Unknowable is, to Mr. Harrison, a mere formula, an x^ 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 519 

and it is to Sir James Stephen a bubble invisible 
to the naked eye. No more, then, than the other is 
this object one fit to light up the immortal soul of 
man with such love and joy as must find expression 
in praise and thanksgiving. 

For Mr. Spencer it is a grievance that Mr. Harrison, 

overlooking his " if," actually makes him say that 

Propriety gratitude and veneration are due some- 

of Gratitude y^here. No ; he protests that he never said 

and 

VeruraHon that ; Only that, if they were due anywhere, 
Disclaimed, jt would be to the creative power and not 
to man, to the producer and not to the product. For 
Positivists who had long " rested " in hope of seeing 
the Unknowable evolve into the " chimera," this was 
sufficiently startling to make them forget the " if" 
Not give the praise and glory to Humanity! they cry; 
not to that Great Being whose past, present, and 
future are all " on this earth," all " in the dwelling- 
place which he has made for himself thereon."' 

No ; Mr. Spencer could not give to man the glory 
of making either himself or his dwelling-place. Here 
his English common-sense saved him from following 
Has Man Comte the whole length. He had done so 
^>wW*^ sadly too far, and in his mode of changing 
pUuei the parallel between society and an organ- 
ism into coincidence, had run the fanciful identifi- 
cation to lengths outdoing even the original. But 

' Nineteenth Century ^ No. 91, p. 373. 



620 AGNOSTICISM, 



here was a matter capable of test by external facts, and 
actually tested by a]l rational men. The notion of 
man as the author of his own dwelling-place was as 
void as would be the notion that Queen Victoria built 
Windsor Castle. The dwelling-place of man was 
erected and roofed in, its drainage arranged, its water 
supply adjusted, its apparatus for lighting and ventila- 
tion fitted up, even stores of food in land and water 
were laid in, with much adornment of flowers, and 
lively minstrelsy of birds, ere the tenant entered on 
possession. Yet this sapient tenant is expected by 
the Comtists to thank himself for the wealth of good 
things prepared for him before he had ever lived or 
moved. Indeed, Mr. Harrison cannot account for 
Mr. Spencer's failure to see that man was bound to 
thank himself, except on the ground of "astonishing 
perversity." He then proceeds to accuse him of 
'i lavishing " the gratitude and veneration due here on 
his "Unknowable and Inconceivable Postulate." But 
the charge was totally unfounded. 

Nay, replies the accused ; not so ! All he had said 
was "if": — if gratitude be given "anywhere," let it 
be to the producer, not to the product He, however, 
will not say that there exists any producer to thank, 
or, indeed, to say that, a correct balance being struck, 
there is anything to be thankful for. For me, this 
last point is immaterial. Were the balance of sweet 
over bitter ever so clear, we should no more thank 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 621 



an unconscious something than we thank a honey- 
comb for the honey : for we have it confessed that 
gratitude can arise only as the response of conscious 
recipient to conscious giver. And veneration cannot 
be added to gratitude but by the response of moral 
sensibility to manifested moral worth. Now, seeing 
that Mr. Spencer had carefully guarded himself 
against saying that there was any conscious Bene- 
factor, or, indeed, any superior Being holding a moral 
relation to us at all, it was natural that he should 
feel aggrieved on being charged with lavishing his 
veneration and gratitude on that breathless corpse 
of a First Cause which he preconizes. Love to such 
a thing is an " impossibility of thought," an impossi- 
bility of feeling, and an impossibility of action. And 
a religion without love to God is like a steam-engine 
without fire. 

III. — No Foundation for Love to Man, 

From this point to the kindred one that Agnos- 
ticism comprises no real foundation for love to 
man, we naturally pass by way of a position of Mr, 
Harrison, taken upon impregnable ground : " The 
Neo-Theisms have all the same mortal weakness 
that the Unknowable has. They offer no kinship, 
sympathy, or relation whatever between worshipper 
and worshipped. They, too, are logical formularies, 

M M 



622 AGNOSTICISM. 



begotten in controversy, dwelling apart from man 
and the world." 

"Apart " from man ! objects Mr. Spencer. That is 
a misrepresentation ; for how can that be apart which 
is the substance whereof man and all other things 
are but forms. But the very words shall be g^ven of 
this passage, which, if not neutralized by negations 
elsewhere, would lift Mr. Spencer's system up to the 
level of Pantheism : " Throughout my books, the im- 
plication is that our lives, alike physical and mental, 
in common with all the activities, organic and in- 
organic, amid which we live, are but workings of this 
Power."* How, then, can it be spoken of as "apart" 
from man ? It can be or cannot be, according as you 
give to the word "apart" a literal meaning or a meta- 
phorical one. Literally, in a merely physical sense, 
the grass in a meadow is not apart from the clay 
out of which it grows. . Metaphorically, in a mental 
and spiritual sense, grass and clay are apart from 
all intercourse of thought and feeling, to the full 
extent of possibility. And apart from man, from 
mind, from love and hope, from trust and joy, from 
praise and prayer — most utterly apart is that thing 
which is called the Unknowable. It is nothing to 
the point that, it being an unconscious whole — 
what I have called the corpse of a First Cause — 
we, like gravelstones, mushrooms, and daisies on the 

^Nifutetnth Century^ No. 89, p. 7. 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 523 

ground, are the unconscious efflux from its surface. 
Surface, however, it has none, seeing it is everything. 
The utter estrangement of this unascertained Some- 
thing from human life and all its weal and woe is Mr. 
Harrison's point ; and in a mental and spiritual sense 
his point is well taken. Yet, in a Positivist sense, it 
would seem to be incautiously taken ; for, if the word 
Unknowable is replaced by the word Necessity, all 
things equally come out of that and are equally apart 
from it, on Comte's system, as they are from the 
Unknowable on Spencer's. 

In either case man is bereaved of all kindred 

higher than himself in the scale of being. Kindred 

below is left to him among the animals, 

Has Man ^ ' 

any iCindnd which he can lift some little way up, if he 
^'^ does not sink down to them. But no higher 
spirit ever breathes an upward inspiration 
into that spirit within him for which the companion- 
ship of beasts, though welcome, is little, and even that 
of. man is not satisfying, though full of joys. Now, 
in all human relations the sacredness of a lower tie is 
due in large part to that of a higher one, common to 
both parties. Were little brother in the nursery al- 
ways alone with little sister, no higher love or fear, 
common to both, consecrating the rights of either, 
or commanding the justice of each, their relations 
would soon be those of the survival or domination 
of the strongest The tie to the Parent is the sacred 

M M 2 



624 AGNOSTICISM. 



and living bond which connects the rights and 
quickens the aflTections of both. This is just the 
tie which both Positivism and Agnosticism do away 
with. No Father above us, there is no brother- 
hood, no basis of rights, no standard of duty, no 
foundations. 

On the Agnostic system man is a thing which 
comes up among other things, like the final spray 
of coral on a stem. He can no more make a Higher 
Spirit, to love him and be in turn loved by him, than 
the spray of coral could make a philosopher to take 
scientific knowledge of it. All upper space is on 
this system void of Spirit, void of thought, void of 
life. The tie of kindred to man coming, as it does, 
through common descent from One Father is frozen 
dead. "Forasmuch as we also are His offspring," — 
that argument which from the lips of Paul could take 
effect on the mind of the Athenian, even under the 
shadow of the statue of Pallas, and could cause that 
mind to raise itself up in conscious superiority to 
images of marble or ivory or gold, is an argument 
altogether pointless to an Agnostic ; as much so as to 
a Positivist. Consequently the ever-blessed corollary 
of that Parentage is lost ; for when there is no Father 
to love, there is no authority to command us to 
love our Brother also. 

Although in Mr. Spencer we have not an example 
of what would be produced by many ages of Agnos- 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 626 



tic unbelief, but only an example of what such 

A'mosticism ^"'^'*^* produces when in its first age strug- 
Lowers gHng to commend itself to minds pre- 
^f^^M^^ occupied with the ideas of philanthropy 
prevailing in an atmosphere more or less 
Christianized, the effects of losing the true sprmgs 
of such humanity are even in him already manifest. 
He sets out only to prove, us against Comtists, that 
we cannot see in mankind a fit object of the worship 
of mankind. But he rushes on to prove that mankind 
is worthy of our contempt rather than of our respect. 
This, be it carefully noted, is quite a different thing 
from showing that all men — we with the rest — are 
worthy of the condemnation of a Judge himself free 
from all sin. 

Mr. Spencer's common sense leads him to say 
that he does not see "why we are to exclude the 
blameworthy from our conception of Humanity. ' 
This is done by Comtists on the principle of not 
reckoning the worthless as any part of the racC; 
only as parasites — ^a short and easy method with 
sinners which a Christian regards with disgust. 
For him, the "blameworthy" are all of us. For him, 
it is neither he nor you who can tell which of two 
men will be found the more blameworthy in the 
eyes of Him who sees all — the one whose name is 
execrated by his contemporaries, or the one whose 
name is trumpeted. Nor can he tell whether the 



626 AGNOSTICISM. 



worst man he knows may not yet become a joy 
to his family and a blessing to his neighbourhood ; 
for such changes the grace of God can make. And 
in looking on any bad man one feeling is present 
to him : " I might have been such as he ; there am I 
but for the grace of God." The compassions, the 
sense of kindred, generated by beliefs such as these 
are manifestly benumbed in Mr. Spencer; and, if 
we had the hundredth in a line of generations, with 
a steadily increasing estrangement from fellow feeling 
and Christian charity, we should have a degree of 
contempt for erring human beings increased manifold. 
He is hard on political and educational follies, push- 
ing the legitimate lesson from them as an ailment 
against worshipping humanity till it becomes a ground 
for our contempt of it — a feeling to which we are 
hardly entitled, seeing, perhaps, that to these follies 
each of us may himself have made some contribution. 
Even the evolution of human nature in its 
necessary progress from worse to better — a fancy of 
Services to Mr. Spencer with others — is not to be 
Mankind credited either **to Humanity as an ag- 

do not 

Merit gfcgate or to its component individuals.'* 
Thanks! Such progress is that of the coral island, 
** the whole structure being entirely undesigned, and, 
indeed, absolutely unknown to its producers, indi- 
vidually or in their aggregate."' Here "entirely 

^Nineteenth Century ^ No. 89, p. 19. 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 627 

undesigned " would exclude design on the part 
both of the coral polyps and on that of their 
Maker. 

Now, just as the polyps are not to be commended, 
so, no more are men. Most of these did their part for 
the attainment of " private ends." Such private 
ends include both gains and enjoyments, and either 
of these reaped seems to disentitle a fellow man 
to thanks ! Thus it is assumed that private ends 
and sinister ends are always identical, as they 
sometimes are when private ends conflict with public 
services, or falsify disinterested professions. 

It is many years ago that, speaking of a man 
diligently breaking stones on the roadside, I said 
the spectacle humbled me; for it was an easier thing 
to make books for mankind than to break stones for 
them. But, had not the man his private ends ? I 
hope he had : because if those ends were to provide 
for himself, his wife, and children, private as they 
were, instead of being sordid, they were noble, and 
raised the man into a true promoter of the public 
interest. Did I feel that in sitting there he had only 
the comfort of serving the rest of us, and not the 
consciousness of also serving himself, I should feel as 
if a partner in wrong. And when the pursuit of purely 
private ends effects great public service, there is a 
strong presumption that One Mind has ordained 
each, and coordinated both. God bless thee, then, my 



628 AGNOSTICISM, 



friend and neighbour, whomsoever thou art, who toilest 
for thyself and thine own ! Thou art doing no sordid 
thing ! Thou art doing what, if all did, none would 
want, and none who suffer would be without a friend ! 
Mr. Spencer seems to look upon the incompatibility 
of private ends with public services as so complete, 
that he would even abate from, if not cancel. Watt's 
claim to credit, because he took out patents. How 
an Unascertained Something would govern us, I 
know not. But a Faithful Creator will reckon every 
labourer worthy of his hire ; albeit reward coming 
from Him can never be of debt, but always and only of 
grace. And under His benign reign the hope of just 
reward is a spring of action, not sordid, but sound 
and good. Right-hearted fellow-servants will always 
rejoice to see one well repaid whose work has notably 
facilitated the tasks of all the others. 

Even the aesthetic joy of production seems to Mr. 
Spencer to detract from the respect we owe to Artist 
or to Author. " Thou shalt rejoice in all that thou 
puttest thy hand unto," is an integral part of the ordin- 
ances of religion in the Old Testament, and is one which 
reappears still brighter and more gladdening in the 
New. To true enjoyment of life fruitful action is 
essential, and he who in doing fruitful action counts 
not on finding joy, cannot know what it is to serve a 
Master who reckons as a glory to Himself all services 
done to His creatures ; who is pleased even with the 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 629 



faithful duty of a bondservant toward a froward and 
evil master. Adam had joy in dressing the garden and 
in keeping it, ere sin had caused labour and sorrow to 
be so bound together, as in innocence are action and 
joy. 

Mr. Spencer thinks that language is all of man's 
forming, and yet that it gives him no claim to 
credit ; for the process, as he conceives, " went on 
without the intention of those who were instrumental 
to it" 

Now, let us suppose that all processes had gone on 
without the intention of those who were instrumental 
to them ; then, if that did destroy their claim to credit, 
what would be the natural presumption such a fact 
would raise ? All human experience goes for nought, 
all human reason is at fault, if processes in which un- 
conscious instruments cooperate with one another 
towards the production of complex results of true 
utility are not in every case due to the preparation of 
instruments and their direction by a controlling mind. 
In the case of any one coral reef, where numberless 
agents combine to a given end unknown to themselves, 
the evidence of a single controlling mind seems 
obvious. But, when from one reef you pass to many, 
and find that in a thousand cases the ends are identi- 
cal, and the processes also, then does the evidence of 
one central direction become overwhelming. Design 
there is, method there is ; and yet both are as much 



630 AGNOSTICISM. 



hidden from the worker as from the work. Where do 
they lie? Is it not in the depths of an unseen Mind ? 

Take the other case, that of agents who are not un- 
conscious, but are pursuing, each one of them, private 
ends of their own. Surely, the fact that, while singly 
doing this, they yet in the aggregate perform some 
service essential to the public welfare, is no small 
token that all their actions are overruled by One great 
Watcher. It is no man's business to see that there 
shall be milk in London to-morrow morning for every- 
body's children, but while men are labouring to pro- 
vide for their own, they are anticipating the wants of 
others, and promoting the well-being of both. This 
common good is due, surely, to the care of One who 
guides the action of each, first for his own benefit, and 
next for that of his neighbour. 

Joy found in work done must never detract from 
the credit of the doer. Joy is God's gift to action, as 
sorrow is sin's curse with toil, especially bootless toiL 
Grace repairs the work of sin by linking together 
labour and song. God loves the joy of the worker, 
even among the sinful. He has ordained joy for the 
sower, joy for the reaper, joy for the eater ; joy for the 
skilled hand, in its cunning work ; joy for the bright 
eye, in its beautiful design ; joy for the fertile brain, in 
its instructive thought ; ay, joy for the maidservant^ 
for the manservant, for the stranger — ^joy even in 
sorrow ; for, while as Creator the Lord wrought joy 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 631 

into the living tissue of all action, so as Ruler did He 
enact joy as a proper element in all His service. Hail, 
then, to every worker ; but most to him who best 
enjoys his task ! Far nobler is a blacksmith singing 
to his sledge-hammer than a poet in a castle setting 
misanthropy and spleen to far- resounding verse. 

IV. — Commands to Praise a Reason for Contemning 

God. 

This curious side of Agnosticism, by which the joy 
found by men in the fulfilment of their natural tasks 
is turned into a reason for giving them little respect, 
has its counterpart in that equally curious side of it by 
which the fact that God commands His creatures to 
praise Him is turned into a reason for contemning 
Him. One admits that nothing could be more absurd 
than to praise the Unknowable; and nothing more 
impossible than for a heartless, mindless bulk to make 
itself the focus of universal joy, by making itself the 
object of universal praise. If the praise of a finite 
being is turned back upon himself, it engenders 
jealousy and love of adulation ; but if it goes forth 
from himself to a being worthier than he, then it 
enlarges him and lifts him higher, engendering a desire 
to exalt what is noble, and also to unite others in 
sympathetic admiration of the same object In that 
family where all the children praise father and mother, 
there is no mean guarantee for the family peace. In 



632 AGNOSTICISM, 



a host where every officer praises the general, you 
may count upon regular cooperation, and steadfast- 
ness in the day and hour of danger. Just as love to 
a common object is the all-uniting principle, so is 
praise to a common object the all-uniting exercise. 
When the strain is " Home, sweet home," how does 
heart answer to heart in a family ! When the strain 
is " God save the Queen," how does heart answer to 
heart in a company of Englishmen ! When it is " Hail 
Columbia," how in one of Americans ! When it is 
" Dear Fatherland," how in one of Germans ! Praise 
is to love what flame is to fire. 

The philosophy which thinks it accounts for human 

intelligence by an accumulation of nervous shocks 

Absence of Lffvc may be excused, and even commiserated, 

and Praise a jf j^ ^j^e institution of praise to the Head 

Deduction 

from of all life and light and joy it sees no 

Happiness. more than " a love of adulation such as 
would be despised in a human being."^ Passing by 
that thoughtless utterance, we need only pause to 
remark that in such bit of the shadow of a religion as is 
left by Agnosticism no place is found for praise. If 
praise springs of love, it follows that when the soul 
looks out upon a lifeless infinity, out of whose depths 
no eye ever glances love into its eye, it cannot feel the 
kindlings of love or any prompting to praise. It 
follows that when the eye travels up the reaches of a 



» First Prin.y § 33. 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 533 

past, and down the reaches of a future Eternity, and 
never hears a voice saying: " I am the Almighty God ; 
walk before Me, and be thou perfect," those springs of 
feeling which lie deeper than any ever touched by 
human presence cannot gush forth in streams of love 
and thanksgiving. And wherever there is nought to 
awaken the praises of the individual soul, there will 
be nought to gather into one many souls made kin- 
dred by a common love and roused into consciousness 
of their communion by outbursts of united praise. 
Wanting these two elements of human happiness — 
solitary adoration of a soul communing with its God, 
and joint adoration of many kindled with the same 
ardour — its two highest elements are wanting, the two 
which yield the fruitful hours most productive of good 
deeds, the golden hours most welcome back to memory. 
In the dynamics of beneficence no forces are compar- 
able with love and joy, and to both of these praise is as 
the vital breath. A race which no living God loved, 
and in which none loved and praised a living God, 
would speedily become a race in which also no man 
would love his brother. 

V. — Confessed Absence of Moral Power, 

A more complete confession of the fact that his 
residuum of religion is destitute of moral power could 
hardly be expected than in the words of Mr. Spencer : 
" I am not concerned to show what effect religious 



684 AGNOSTICISM. 



sentiment, a« hereafter thus modified, will have as 
a moral agent"' This incredible utterance is made 
in resenting Mr. Harrison's ridicule of the Religion of 
the Unknowable as incapable of " making good men 
and women." "He seems to imply," complains Mr- 
Spencer, " that I have argued or am bound to argue 
that it will do this." Of course he implied it Had he 
assumed that when Mr. Spencer declared that the senti- 
ment left by Agnosticism contained more true religion 
than all dogmatic theology, he meant that its power as a 
moral agent was a matter which no one was concerned 
to show, Mr. Harrison might have been reasonably 
accused of holding up his antagonist to both reproach 
and ridicule. One who does not feel bound to show 
how a new religion will make good men and women can 
never feel bound to show how it will make good insti- 
tutions, good books, or good anything else. For it is 
out of good men and women that all other good things 
on earth come. " True religion," divorced from all 
thought of moral efficacy, is an idea which one would 
have thought impossible for any one who had a con- 
ception of the first elements of religion and the simplest 
uses of language. " Pure religion and undefiled before 
God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and 
widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted 
from the world." It is logical that where there is no 
God who is Father to the fatherless and Husband to 

^Nineteenth Century ^ No. 82, p. 25. 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY, 686 

the widow, no God who loves the world, benefactors 
to the sufferer and examples purifying the world 
should not be raised up. 

When in his Data of Ethics Mr. Spencer placed 
morals, like everything else, in the category of phe- 
nomena evolved by infallible processes, the divorce 
of them from all influence by religious motives was 
theoretically perfected. But it remained for contro- 
versy to elicit the round expression of the fact 

It is self-evident when the Object of religion Him- 
self is gone ; its inspiration, the love of God to 
us, gone ; its inward power, the love of God in the 
heart, gone ; its highest expression, the praise of 
God, gone ; its natural fruit, love to man for the 
Lord's sake, gone — then are gone all faith, all 
worship, all religious ordinances, and all the true 
springs of moral action. 

VI. — The Remnant of Religion, 

What, then, is left? A certain sentiment which, 
when closely considered, is no more than an emi- 
grant may feel on nearing an unknown shore. The 
religious efficacy of a certain sense of mystery is the 
kernel of Mr. Spencer's system. " A sincere recogni- 
tion of the truth that our own and all other existence 
is a mystery absolutely and for ever beyond our 
comprehension contains more of true religion than all 



636 AGNOSTICISM. 



the dogmatic theology ever written."' A recognition 
of such mystery contains no religion at all. It would 
be as reasonable to say that it contained more science 
than all the treatises on natural philosophy ever 
written. A feeling that things are hopelessly beyond 
comprehension is one familiar to the most stupid 
men, and of religious effect it has absolutely none. 
With men a degree above the most stupid, it has 
the social effect of making them trust those who 
can comprehend what they cannot. But this one 
good effect of natural stupidity is reversed by un- 
belief in all its forms ; for, if we really cannot compre- 
hend a matter, or if we can be persuaded, on grounds 
however fanciful, to say that we cannot do so, un- 
belief then teaches us to refuse to look up to 
any being who can — teaches us to extend to the 
whole universe the limitations of our own intelligence. 
The mere curiosity and awe felt in contemplating 
great physical facts, if those facts are not invitations 
to seek out the Maker and Master of all finite things, 
are utterly destitute either of the relig^'ous power 
that elevates the soul above earth, or of that which 
fills the heart with charity towards men. 

The single exercise of the soul which could arise out 
of this curiosity would be that occupation of the 
mind about an Unascertained Something with which 
we are familiar. Only by a wild straying from the 



^ First Prin.^ § 31. 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 637 

signification of words can such an exercise, or the 
state of mind prompting it, be said to contain 
more true religion than Christianity : for that must 
be included in the expression "all the dogmatic 
theology ever written." 

The confession that this sense ol mystery will 
always remain, and that the occupation of the mind 
with something unknown will always follow, is the 
great concession to religion by which Mr. Spencer 
reconciles it to science. What he looks upon as 
the reduction from religion made by his assumed data 
includes : a Personal God, Creation, the relations of 
Creator and Creature, Providence and a Moral Ruler, 
the Future Life and all its corollaries, Revelation 
and all its doctrines and institutions. What is to 
reconcile Religion to this reduction is what has 
been said. 

What he calls science is the sum total of ascertained 
scientific truths, augmented by his own conjectural 
structures of natural history. The amount of mystery 
about these last seems, to me, greatest as to how 
any man can expect others to accept them as more 
than tentative excursions into the inaccessible. The 
contrast is strong throughout his writings between 
the clearness of passages in which he expounds recog- 
nized science and the elaborate works of word- 
craft with which he imposes upon himself suppositious 
explanations when he undertakes either to lay down 



638 AGNOSr/C/SAf. 



a priori principles, or else to evolve by surmise 
cosmic processes. Analysed word by word, even 
his formula of evolution becomes mere volcanic 
dust in the sky, irradiated so as to look like bits of 
rainbow. To a perfect view, a nebula is definite as 
well as a globe ; it is coherent, if not so closely ; and 
it is to the full as heterogeneous, though to our eye 
more uniform, " Evolution is an integration of matter 
and concomitant dissipation of motion, during which 
the matter passes from an indefinite, incoherent 
homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneit>% 
and during which the retained motion undergoes a 
parallel transformation.*'^ This is not the place to 
enter on an examination of so wide a subject 

Leaving out of the question Mr. Spencers ac- 
cretions upon science, we need not trouble our- 
selves about reconciling religion and science, any 
more than about reconciling winds and waters. 
These two often appear to be in deadly conflict, 
and they are evermore being mixed up together, 
the winds being damp with water, the waters 
being driven of the wind. But they are both 
here ; both in the proper places ; and as to the 
ever-recurring conflict between them, it always comes 
right somehow. The deep waters of science arc 
fringed by a surf of hypotheses and conjectures, and 
the firm ground of religion is fringed by a beach of 

*^i>j//Viif., §369. 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 639 



prejudices and philosophic theories. It is upon 
this that the breakers lash. Let the surf roar ; let 
the beach rattle and shift. The city of our habitation 
is on the dry land, upheld by the living Rock ; and 
" the waters will no more go over the earth." 

If Positivism was minimized when its champion 
was pressed by his opponents, Agnosticism shares a 
like fate as Mr. Spencer quails before the terrible 
accusation of meaning by Religion something with a 
belief, a worship, and a moral code. What right, he 
cries, had people to speak of his worship of the Un- 
knowable, of praying to the Unknowable, of devotions, 
of his religion bringing us comfort, or making good 
men and women ? . When had he spoken of such 
things? They were not to be found anywhere in 
his writings. 

Just as we admit the perfect justice of this dis- 
claimer, so do we see the perfect emptiness of what 
we were assured contained not only as much true 
religion as Christianity, but more. " I have proposed 
no worship ; I have said nothing about devotion, or 
prayer, or religious exercises, or hope, or consolation/* 
All he had asserted was " the permanence of certain 
components in the consciousness which is concerned 
with what lies beyond the sphere of sense." If 
this is thought inadequate for the purposes of a 
religion, " I have said nothing about its adequacy or 
inadequacy ' 



540 AGNOSTICISM, 



This, then, it is to which we are led as the issue ot 
laborious enterprises followed up throughout a life- 
time in reconstructing heaven and earth, life and 
mind, man and society on the basis of a reconcilia- 
tion between science and a religion without God. 
The basis was a bubble, and the bubble has indeed 
been blown till it has passed from the perceptible to 
the imperceptible. Few contrasts are odder than 
that between the absorption by Positivism of all 
government into the priesthood, and the abandon- 
ment by Agnosticism of all " concern,*' even to show 
how its religion would bear upon morals. 

This disappearance of the vapour supposed to cover 
the moral nucleus of what was called a religion leads 
us back to the Object of Faith ; and then we see 
how naturally a religion not concerned with morals 
springs from a belief in an Ultimate Reality that 
cares for nothing. He that thinks cannot worship 
what does not think. The soul is not made to look 
only downward, and the human soul must as neces- 
sarily look down on what does not think, feel, and 
will as must an eagle on no matter what bulk of hill 
The living cannot worship the lifeless; for life is the 
light of men. He who foresees and in his own finite 
sphere foreordains, cannot worship that which knows 
neither past, present, nor future. The spirit of man 
is not to be bereft of its noble relations. As to this 
world, he is not buried sightless at its centre, but is 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANll Y. Ml 

set on its surface, with an eye turned outward on the 
ocean of infinity, over which his spirit sweeps, but 
never travels alone. " Thou art there," and " there 
also," is the ever-recurring conclusion of its reason- 
ings — is its consciousness ever welling up. If within 
itself it feels sparks of life, and light, and love, these 
did not come from the dead, the dark, the senseless ; 
but from a Fountain of infinite life, and light, and 
love. When instead of this Father of Spirits you offer 
to the soul a cold shadow of existence, it says : This 
is not He whose image I bear, and by whose gift I 
enjoy, and plan, and rule. 

Men now well up in years may remember having 
been taught as boys to recite a piece of Mrs. 
Hemans, in which a Spanish knight receives. the 
king's promise that his imprisoned father shall be 
restored to him, and they set out together to meet the 
ransomed man. As the son kneels down before the 
mounted figure, and seizes the hand to kiss it, lo ! it 
drops from his, dead, and when he looks up into the 
eyes, they are dead. He shudders, starts up, and 
cries : " This earth is not my sire." Such a shudder 
such a cry, such a recoil are wrung from the spirit of 
immortal man when, after being invited to behold the 
object of True Religion, the Infinite and Eternal 
Energy, it is set face to face with a spiritless, mindless, 
lifeless bulk. 



642 AGNOSTICISM, 



VII. — Final Results of Positivism and Agnosticism. 

Positivism before setting out named itself as if it 
were to be the philosophy of affirmations. Yet its 
first step was to lay the greater part of the universe 
under the interdict of one comprehensive negation, 
as "Inaccessible." Corresponding with this beginning 
its ultimate issue is in three portentous negations: — 

Worlds without a Cause. 

Society without Rights. 

Religion without God. 

Agnosticism named itself as if it were to be a phil- 
osophy of nescience ; but commenced by showing that 
the nescience attached mostly to God, while know- 
ledge culminated in man ; yet even human science it 
confined to things of sense. Its issue is in a multitude 
of portentous negations, of which some of the most 
obvious are : — 

Worlds without a Head. 

A Universal Cause without foresight of effects. 

Religion without an Object of Faith, without a 
Doctrine, without a Moral Code. 

When we consider the vacuity of the religion of 
Agnosticism, and the eccentric parodies of the re- 
ligion of Positivism, we might think they had been 
permitted that the futility of attempting to frame re- 
ligion without a Living and True God might be dis- 
played to all men. When much time has been spent 



SUBSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 43 



in poring, over them with patient intentness, and when 
after this the soul is lifted up to "Our Father which 
art in Heaven," it is like emerpjing out of the shadow 
of death into the light of life. I feel as if I had 
been in a vaulted museum, the floor crowded with 
philosophical apparatus and the walls set round with 
skeletons. I have been seeking for a soul among the 
machines, and peering into cavernous socket after 
cavernous socket in search of an eye. At each fresh 
attempt, reason whispered, Why seek ye the living 
among the dead? But a hollow note coming from 
nowhere always crossed this voice, repeating: "There 
is no help for him in his God." The task done, I 
kneel at the throne of Grace, and say: "Our Father 
which art in Heaven." It seems as if all my being 
were flooded with the light of a countenance full of un- 
utterable life and love. "Thou art a shield for me," 
I cry; "a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up oi 
my head." Yea, even so; and therefore, " Unto the 
King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God, 
be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." And 
let all the people say. Amen. This, then, be our wit- 
ness before the living and the unborn : " We which 
have believed do enter into rest." 



WILLIAM ARTHUR'S WORKS 

AUTHOR'S UNIFORM EDITIONS. 
/// Crmtm Octavo, 



RELIGION WITHOUT GOD 

AND 

GOD WITHOUT RELIGION. 

I. — POSITIVLSM AND Mr. FrEDERIC HaRRISON. 

Snoedy 2s. 

II. — Agnosticism and Mr. Herbert Spencer. 

Scicedf 4J. 6<i. 

III. — Deism and Sir Fitzjames Stephen. 

[/» preparation, 

Ci.oTH Gilt, 4/. 6t/. 

THE TONGUE OF FIRE ; 

OR, 

THE TRUE POWER OF CHRISTIANITY. 

" ' The Tongue of Fire ' is an RnRlish classic far above rhe need of criticism from a*. 
We have only to lell oiir readers thai this is worthy to be the librar>* edition for all future 
time. I'hose who have never read theite flaming pages should lose no time in doing »o; 
t:<(pecially those who wish to leach and preach Jesus." — Rev. C. H. SpukciKox in SnHmi ami 
Trmvfl. 

Cl.OJll (iMT, 6.C. 

THE SUCCHSSFUL MERCHANT; 

SKKTCHKS OF THE LIKE OF MR. S.VMUEL BUI)(;1:TT. 

Skwki). i.f. 

Til El PEOPLE'S DAY; 

AX ArrEAL ACIAINST A FRENCH SUNDAY. 
Olhcr Works iti the I'nifonii Edition wi/i Ik' duly announced.